Packaging study released
Double-language labels enjoys wide support

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 12/97) - Ever wonder what it costs to get two languages onto a cereal box?

Well, according to a recent report, by the federal government, the overall costs for all businesses to conform to two-language packaging and labelling is just under $100 million a year in Canada.

A special study on the costs of bilingualism was initiated by the federal Official Languages commissioner Victor Goldbloom.

The study focuses on costs to small and medium-sized businesses in Canada for two-language packaging and labelling.

It was observed that many businesses go beyond the regulatory requirements as part of their marketing strategy.

A preliminary review of regulations in 1992-93 showed a broad consensus, shared by industry and consumer groups, in favor of packaging, labelling and instructions in both French and English, in certain circumstances where there was a risk to health, safety and security of the Canadian consumer.

Industry respondents also recognized the value of being able to reach the entire Canadian market and international markets, which they felt outweigh the costs associated with compliance.

Certain products are exempt from the two-language requirements. They include products being test-marketed or distributed only locally in a certain specific geographic area.

Products such as greeting cards, books and games in which a knowledge of the language is essential to their use may be labelled only in the official language appropriate to the product, according to the most recent report.

There are also exemptions for certain medical devices, duty-free goods and products intended for export.

Since the Official Languages Act of 1969, successive commissioners have supported clear, understandable consumer information on packages, labels and instructions for assembly in both official languages.