After much discussion between Health Canada* and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)**, they have now reached an agreement on gluten free labeling and more. Beginning August 4, 2012, the new regulations for gluten labeling and allergens, that were announced 18 months prior, go into effect. In addition to gluten, such ingredients as sulphites will also need to be listed as an allergen on labels. The new regulations will effect most prepackaged food, wine and spirits, as well as prepackaged fruit.
On July 13, 2012 the CFIA published an overview of the Enhanced Labelling Regulations for Food Allergens. See my description of these below:
- Most prepackaged products will carry warnings of food allergens, gluten sources, and sulphites either in their list of ingredients or in their “Contains:..” statement;
- Commonly used words must be used on labels to identify food allergens and gluten sources;
- Mustard seed is a new addition which is required to be listed as a food allergen, and will also need to be listed either in the ingredients or its “Contains” statement;
- Plant sources of starches, modified starches, hydrolyzed plant protein and lecithin must clearly described using common words such as “hydrolyzed soy protein” rather than “hydrolyzed vegetable protein”;
- Rather than just declaring wheat as an allergen, now spelt and kamut must also be declared as a wheat allergen;
- If a product contains more than 10 ppm (parts per million) sulphites it must be listed either as ingredient or in its “Contains” statement;
- Any products containing more than 10 ppm of any allergen, gluten sources, or sulphite the label must list that allergen, i.e., mustard must be listed as contains sulphites.
- The wine and spirits industry use fining agents (a substance used to clarify the product, and sometimes enhance the color, aroma, flavor, or stability/freshness). Though most of these agents are filtered out, when using a fining agent from an allergen, that allergen (eggs, milk, fish, etc.) must be listed on the label.
- Prepackaged fruits and vegetables using a protective edible coating or wax containing any gluten or allergens must list them on their labels.
Though the new regulations call for a less than 10 ppm limit, this does not mean that you will not find products made in Canada with less than 10 ppm. Currently, Canada’s New Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) sponsored by the Canadian Celiac Association certifies products at less than 5 ppm. See the Gluten Free Requirements Overview, section on “How will the facility’s gluten-free management system be measured?” Point No. 3.
With gluten issues and sulphite allergies of my own I am happy to see these new changes. I would love to see the FDA follow suit.
* Health Canada is the Federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health.
** Canadian Food Inspection Agency is a regulatory agency where decisions are based on scientific data. They are dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, which enhances the health and well-being of Canada’s people, environment and economy.