September 21, 2023

Canada employs a strong code for allergen labeling

by admin in Food Allergies0 Comments

Health Canada requires that common allergens are listed on labels.

People who live in Canada and have a peanut allergy or other food allergy are protected by labeling that is mandated by the Canadian government. Health Canada requires that many different nuts that cause allergic reactions must be labeled on all foods that contain these common allergens. These include peanuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and cashews.

Other Common Allergens that Must Appear on Food Labels

Many other allergens must also be clearly labeled, including sesame seeds, eggs, milk, soybeans, wheat, kamut, spelt, triticale, crustaceans, shellfish, or fish. Gluten protein must also be labeled, along with any protein from barley, oats, rye, triticale, wheat, kamut, or spelt. If nuts are included in a food product, the type of nut must be specified. The type of grain included in a product must also be specified, making it easier for those with a food allergy to know exactly what is included in a food before consuming it.

Sulfites must also be listed on the package of food if levels are 10 parts per million or more. In Canada, food allergens must be either on the list of ingredients, but they may also be in a separate statement. The exception is that alcoholic beverages that use eggs, milk, or fish, or any product derived from these, do not need to be posted on the label.

The only other food products that do not need to be labeled if they are contained in food products are those that are served by restaurants or stores in prepackaged individual servings. Also, prepackaged individual servings of foods in vending machines or canteens do not need to contain a list of ingredients that includes allergens. Another item in this group is prepackaged meat products that are barbecued or cooked at the site where they are purchased. If a food item does have a list of ingredients, allergens must be included in the list.

Enforcement of Labeling Requirements

Health Canada currently has a domestic and import inspection program that checks to be sure that labeling requirements are met by food producers. Those who are non-compliant may receive fines and other consequences. The government agency, Health Canada, urges food manufacturers and producers to also use statements such as “May contain” if there is a chance of cross-contamination or of another ingredient that can cause food allergy symptoms to develop.

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