Allergen statements on food labels under review
By Canadian PizzaNews
Consumers who study ingredient lists to avoid triggering
an allergy or sensitivity may soon find food product labels easier to
Consumers who study ingredient lists to avoid triggering an allergy or sensitivity may soon find food product labels easier to read.
Health Canada said last month that it’s reviewing statements for food allergens and other similar label statements to give consumers better information. Statements that say “may contain …” are used when products may have come into contact with food allergens during manufacturing.
Since being introduced in 1994, there has been a rise in the use and in the variety of statements about the possible presence of allergens in food.
But Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency say more people are telling them the statements are confusing.
The fear is that this could lead to the statements being ignored and consumers eating foods that could trigger very serious and even life-threatening allergic reactions.
Health Canada says the review will look at the labelling of items most often associated with food allergies and allergic-type reactions, including peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, soy, milk, eggs, fish including crustaceans and shellfish, wheat and sulphites.
It’s estimated that up to 1.2 million Canadians have food-related allergies, Health Canada says. And it’s estimated that one in 133 people have the digestive disorder celiac disease. Labels can help these people choose foods that won’t trigger their food allergy or sensitivity.
Food manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers are being notified of the proposed changes and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is recommending industry start using them immediately even while the review is underway.
The review will remove terms, such as “may contain traces of X,” and restrict the options for precautionary statements. Proposed options for precautionary statements include: “may contain X”; or “not suitable for consumption by persons with an allergy to “X.”
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