The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, and Royal Galipeau, Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Orleans, announced regulations to strengthen Canada's labelling of food allergens and gluten sources. This means that Canadians with food allergies, sensitivities and celiac disease will soon be able to make more informed choices about the foods they buy. The Ministers also unveiled what the food label will now look like.
"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 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."
It is estimated that approximately five to six per cent of young children and three to four per cent of adults suffer from food allergies. Nearly one per cent of the population is affected by celiac disease, for whom the consumption of foods containing gluten can lead to long term complications.
The new regulations will require additional labelling and strengthen the labelling requirements to require clearer language and the declaration of otherwise "hidden" allergens, gluten sources, and sulphites.
Because of the complexity of the changes and the shelf-life of foods, industry has been given 18 months to implement the new allergen labelling regulations. The coming into force date is set for August 4, 2012.
Health Canada and the CFIA will continue to work with industry members to ensure that there is a smooth labelling implementation period for foods sold in Canada. Health Canada will continue to update Canadians on the progress of this file as the coming into force date approaches.
Please visit Health Canada's website for details on the final regulatory amendments on labelling regulations for food allergens, gluten sources and added sulphites. You can also watch our video on Allergen Labelling.