Food Allergen Label Changes Come Into Effect In Canada

Health Canada’s new food labeling regulations, which came into force August of this year, have made it easier for people with food allergies to identify what foods might make them sick. The new labeling regulations were phased in slowly over an 18-month period. Packaged foods must now clearly list allergens using commonly acknowledged vocabulary like “milk” instead of “hydrolyzed casein.”

Most common allergens targeted

The new rules extend to the high-priority allergens which cause 90% of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis and death: peanuts, eggs, milk, tree nuts (almond, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts), soy, sesame seeds, seafood (fish, crustaceans and shellfish), sulphites, mustard seed, glutens (oats, barley and rye), and wheat. Smaller ingredients must also list any included allergens. For instance, labels must declare if there are any sulfites within the "spices" that are listed.

New regulations state that prepackaged food companies can either put the allergen on its list of ingredients or add a line which states “contains x.”

Make sure to double check

“It’s going to require allergic people to look for the ‘contain’ statement,” advised Marilyn Allen, a food allergy consultant whose 15-year-old daughter died of exposure to a food allergen. “If it’s absent, never assume. Then go back and read the ingredient list to make sure there’s been enough space on the label for that company to repeat that message twice.”

Beer exempted

It’s not a perfect regulation. There are some things left off the list: deli, bakery, and bulk foods are exempted, as is beer.

Source: CBC News, Health Canada
Photo: Pixabay

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