Canada introduces allergen labeling regulations

by Keith Nunes
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OTTAWA — Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have issued new regulations regarding the mandatory labeling of allergens included in prepackaged food and beverage product formulations.

“These regulatory amendments will require that the source of a food allergen or gluten be shown on the label of most prepackaged products when the food allergen or gluten is present in the prepackaged product,” according to the regulatory amendments issued Feb. 14. “The food allergen or gluten source will be required to be shown on the product label in consistent and easy-to-understand terminology. For example, if casein is present in a prepackaged product, the word ‘milk’ will be shown on the product label. The source of the food allergen or gluten will be shown either in the list of ingredients or in a ‘contains’ statement.”

The new regulatory requirements also will cover sulphites that are added to prepackaged food products in a total amount of 10 parts per million or more. Similar to the listing of allergens, sulphites that exceed the regulatory limit must be labeled in the list of ingredients or in a “contains” statement.

“Our government is committed to protecting children and families from dangerous products, and this is clear from the measures we have taken in our new Consumer Product Safety Act,” said Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq. “All parents want to have confidence in the food they are serving their families, and these changes to food labels will make it easier for parents of children with food allergies to identify potentially harmful, if not fatal, ingredients in foods.”

Companies affected by the new regulations will have 18 months, until Aug. 4, 2012, to implement the labeling changes. According to Health Canada, food allergies, celiac disease and sulphite sensitivity affect approximately 1.75 million Canadians. The total population of Canada is estimated to be 34.4 million.

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