Allergy/Asthma Information Association

Proposed Regulatory Amendments to Enhance the Labeling of Priority Allergens in Foods

Health Canada has prepared regulatory amendments to enhance labeling requirements for specific priority allergens, gluten sources and sulphites in prepackaged foods sold in Canada. Health Canada intends to recommend that these proposed regulatory amendments be published in the Canada Gazette, Part 1, by mid-2004. Once the amendments are passed there will be a phase in period, which will likely be two years, to allow food manufacturers to adapt to the changes.

The following information has been provided by the Food Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada (February 2004). The major thrust of the change is that, no matter how small the quantity, the top ten allergens will have to be listed on labels of foods that require labeling. This will be a welcome development for food allergic consumers as well as those who affected by Celiac disease.

The proposed regulatory amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations would include:

1) (a) the label declaration of the following foods, or any protein-containing derivatives of these, in the list of ingredients by their common name if added directly as an ingredient in prepackaged foods:

(b) if the name of the allergenic food is not already identified in the common name of the derivative, then the name of the allergenic food would have to appear in brackets following the ingredient;

2) (a) amendments to section B.01.009, which exempts certain ingredients or classes of ingredients from label declaration, to require the declaration of the foods mentioned above or any protein-containing derivative, when they are added as a component of an ingredient listed in the Table to subsection B.01.009(1);

(b) the declaration would be made in the list of ingredients by common name, as if they were an ingredient of that food, followed, in brackets, by the name of the specific allergenic food specified above (e.g. casein (milk)), if it is not already identified in the common name of the derivative;

(c) if more than one component of an ingredient or of a class of ingredient contains the same priority allergen or gluten source, the name of the specific allergen or gluten source may be declared only once in the list of ingredients;

3) identification of the plant or animal source in the common name of all hydrolysed proteins;

4) identification of the specific source of the plant in the common name of all forms of starch (including maltodextrin) or modified starch;

5) identification of the source of lecithin in the common name of lecithin;

6) amendments to subsection B.01.009(1) to require the declaration of sulphites when they have been added to a component of an ingredient listed in the Table to this subsection and are present at a level of 10 ppm or more in the final food product;. the declaration would be a statement that the food contains sulphites or a sulphiting agent, or the word "sulphites", or the words "sulphiting agent", or the name of the sulphiting agent would be shown in the list of ingredients;

Note: The proposed amendments would not change the current requirement for the declaration of sulphites directly added to a food product at any level, as is the case for any food additive or ingredient not exempted from component declaration in the Table to subsection B.01.009(1). The only change would be in the manner of declaration as the proposed regulatory amendments would allow the optional use of a statement to indicate that the food contains sulphites in addition to the current options of declaring "sulphites", "sulphiting agents" or the name of the sulphiting agent in the list of ingredients;

7) a requirement for a statement on the principal display panel of standardized vinegars and alcoholic beverages that the product contains one or more priority allergens, protein-containing derivatives of these allergens and sulphites (if the sulphites are present at a level of 10 ppm or more) should they have been added directly or indirectly to the product;

8) consequential amendments to paragraph B.01.010(3)(b), which lists common names for groups of specific ingredients or components, to reflect the requirements for the declaration of priority allergens and gluten sources.

Exemptions from the Proposed Regulatory Amendments

The following products would be exempted from the proposed requirements:

For more information, please contact:

from Allergy & Asthma News, Issue 2 2004

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