Strengthening Food Allergen Labelling Regulations

February 21, 2021
Ottawa Journal (February 21 – February 25, 2021)
David Tilson, M.P. (Dufferin-Caledon)

We all know someone who has a serious food allergy and the many precautions they must take to protect themselves each day. Our Government is also committed to protecting children and families from dangerous products. We acted on this commitment by recently introducing new measures to strengthen the ingredient labels on food, to require clearer language and the declaration of otherwise hidden allergens. The new measures will ensure that parents can have peace of mind when selecting foods for their children.

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. Furthermore, nearly one per cent of the population is affected by celiac disease, for which the consumption of foods containing gluten can lead to long-term complications. For this group, avoiding an allergenic food ingredient is the only surefire way to protect themselves against a reaction. This is why ingredient labels on food products are one of the most useful tools for allergic Canadians.

In response to the concerns raised by Canadians, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health and Royal Galipeau, Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Orleans, announced the new regulations to strengthen Canada’s labelling of food allergens and gluten sources on February 14, 2011. The new revised regulations will require that manufacturers declare food allergens (now including mustard), gluten sources, and sulphites by name either in the list of ingredients or at the end of the list of ingredients with the statement of “Contains…” The regulations will also require that food allergens, gluten sources, and sulphites that are sub-ingredients of food be declared on the product label.

Canadians will benefit from these new regulations in many ways. The regulations will provide a clearer ingredient label, to ensure that consumers can better avoid foods that contain ingredients they are allergic to or have sensitivities towards. Furthermore, the strengthened labelling regulations will provide manufacturers with clear, concise labelling requirements so that allergens, gluten sources, and sulphites will be labelled in a systematic and consistent manner. The intention of these new rules is to reduce the number of food recalls and allergic reactions.

The coming into force date for the first phase of the regulations is set for August 04, 2012, which is 18 months (to provide manufacturers sufficient time to implement the new changes) after the date of publication of the amendments in Part II of the federal government’s official newspaper, the Canada Gazette. Any applicable pre-packaged foods being offered for sale after August 04, 2021 must be in compliance with the new regulations. During this transition period, Health Canada strongly advises allergic Canadians to continue to use their current methods to check food products for specific allergens that could pose harm to them.

Our Government is giving Canadians more tools to make safe and informed food choices by strengthening food allergen labelling regulations. We’ve listened to the concerns of parents and consumers alike and we’ve responded in a clear and effective way.