Mandatory Requirements for Production Lot Codes

Sarah Martz, Risk Identification and Management Coordinator
(sarah.martz@ontario.ca or 519-826-4655)

On January 1, 2018 all Ontario maple syrup must be labelled with a production lot code.

With regard to food production, a production lot is the quantity of product which has been produced, processed or packaged under similar circumstances. For example, a lot could be the product that is produced between cleaning cycles or one day's production. A lot code is the specific identifier assigned to all products in each production lot. It is any unique combination of letters or numbers, or letters and numbers, by which a unit of product can be traced and identified in the operation's records.

Using a lot code to identify a production lot is not only mandatory, but is beneficial to a producer in the event of a food safety or quality issue. During these types of events, product may have to be removed from the marketplace. If product is not lot coded, the entire year's production could be considered one lot and all of it may need to be removed and/or destroyed.

Having a lot code enables product to be identified, and only one lot of product may be affected. When creating a lot code, there are no specific rules regarding the make-up of the production lot code or the size of production lot it represents. It should be unique to each production lot and legible for the maximum life of the maple product.

The lot code can be applied to any location on the container. The code can be affixed or attached to the container by any means. As long as the lot code can be traced back to records that indicate the meaning of the code, any number or combination of numbers and letters or number of characters is acceptable (see some examples in the table below).

Records should accompany each lot code and should contain several important pieces of information, including:

  • The amount of product bearing the code.
  • The type of packaging (eg. glass or plastic)
  • Container sizes and # of each size
  • The date packed
  • The source of the product (especially if syrup or sap was purchased from another producer)
  • Any production notes

Distribution records should also be kept and should include:

  • Information regarding the quantity
  • Container sizes, and type of container
  • Buyer/consignee name
  • Address, telephone number, and e-mail address
  • Contact person's name should also be kept. If you are selling maple syrup directly to consumers, this information is not required

Records for each production code should be kept for a period of time that exceeds the expected shelf life of the maple product.

Product lot codes should be:

  • Distinctive
  • Legible and durable
  • Accompanied by records to facilitate product identification, tracking, etc. in enough detail to follow-up on food safety and/or quality issues and/or customer complaints

An example of a maple syrup bottle with a production lot code

Type Example
Date of production/ packing If maple syrup was packed on March 21, 2017 the code could be: 032117 (month, day, year) or 172103 (year, day, month).
Julian Date (three digit number assigned to each day of the year) The Julian date begins with 001 (January 1) and ends with 365 or 366 (December 31). If maple syrup was packed on March 21, 2017 the code would be 08017.
Create your own Make up a code for each production lot using letters and/or numbers that best suits them.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Sarah Martz, Risk Identification and Management Coordinator
Creation Date: December 2017
Last Reviewed: December 2017