A reserved designation provides public recognition and highlights the authenticity of a food product for human (or animal) consumption that is distinct from other products in the same category.
The Act respecting Reserved Designations and Added-Value Claims provides for three categories of designations:
- Designations linked to a terroir: designations of origin (DO) and protected geographical indications (PGI). In either case, the designation is intended to recognize a link between a region or locality and a product that originates there. Currently there are five: Vin du Québec, Neuville Sweet Corn, Cidre de glace du Québec, Québec Icewine and Agneau de Charlevoix.
- Designations relating to a specificity (DS). This type of designation serves to highlight a specific characteristic of a product. Canadienne Cow Cheese enjoys this recognition;
- Designations relating to a method of production. This type of designation applies to a product which, by virtue of a specific method of production, is distinct from other products in the same category. The item must be the product of a complete system of growing, raising and processing whose standards allow distinctive objectives to be attained. Organic production is the first designation in this category.
Lastly, an added-value claim identifies a particular characteristic of a product, generally related to a method of production or preparation, that is sought by consumers. Farm cheese, craft beer and indigenous product are possible examples.