What You Should Know if you Grade, Package or Market Farm Products - Ticketable Offences Under the Produce, Honey and Maple Products Regulation

There are a number of things to remember if you grade, package or market farm products. The requirements for labeling, signage, advertising, container sizes and food safety are outlined in Ontario Regulation (O. Reg.) 119/11 - Produce, Honey and Maple Products. To make them easier to understand, they are explained in the Frequently Asked Questions. Ministry staff will also work with you to help you understand and implement the regulations.

Stakeholders told us that strong enforcement of the regulation is needed to deter misrepresentation and protect food safety. The ministry takes a progressive compliance approach for non-compliance, which begins with an initial contact to provide education and advice regarding best practices. When needed, other tools are used to achieve compliance.

What offences are subject to ticketing and what are the fines?

Ticketing through the authority of the Provincial Offences Act provides a streamlined process to deal with offences for which formal prosecution may not be warranted.

Fines for offences under the regulation have been updated and increased as of August 20, 2012. They are consistent with other fines under the Provincial Offences Act, and range from $150 - $500, depending on the seriousness of the offence. Ticketing addresses offences related to packaging, labelling, selling, transporting, advertising and product misrepresentation.

Here are some examples of fines for ticketable offences:

  • Misrepresentation of origin of products, or misrepresentation of honey or maple syrup substitutes as honey or maple syrup: $500
  • Violations that have the potential to be a human health risk (e.g. packing honey or maple products in consumer-sized containers that are not new, clean, sound or securely closed): depending upon the seriousness of the risk, fines range from $150 to $400
  • Violations of container size standards and labelling requirements for all produce, honey and maple products, fines range from $150 to $325
  • Failure to comply with advertisement and retail display sign requirements that allow informed purchase decisions, fines range from $150 to $325.

Where will tickets be issued?

Provincial Offences Officers responsible for enforcing the regulation can issue a ticket (also known as a Certificate of Offence) at any level of trade from producers/packers to point of sale, such as farmers' markets and grocery stores.

Municipalities administer the ticketing and court processes, where necessary. Fines collected from ticketing go directly to the municipality in which the offence occurred.

What are my options if I receive a ticket?

If you receive a ticket, you have three options:

  1. Plead guilty and pay the fine, which involves mailing in your payment without a court appearance.
  2. Plead guilty with an explanation. This involves appearing before a judge and explaining any unique circumstance surrounding the offence.
  3. Initiate court proceedings to argue against the charges. This involves appearing in court to enter a "not guilty" plea and having a trial with respect to the charges listed on the ticket.

Can Provincial Offences Officers issue a ticket for produce that is not covered by O. Reg. 119/11, such as bananas and oranges?

Produce that cannot be commercially grown or harvested in Canada, such as bananas and oranges, are not regulated under O. Reg. 119/11.

Labelling requirements for commodities that cannot be commercially grown or harvested in Canada are regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Suzete Moniz, Regulatory and Standards Coordinator/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 12 October 2012
Last Reviewed: 18 February 2014