Canadian Packaging

New rules say labels must state allergens

Health Canada, in an effort to ensure Canadian consumers are provided with better information to keep themselves safer, announced on February 14, 2011 that all canadian manufacturers of food and drink provide detailed labeling data that must indicate the presence of allergens, gluten and sulphites in the product.


February 14, 2011
by Canadian Packaging Staff

Health Canada, in an effort to ensure Canadian consumers are provided with better information to keep themselves safer, announced on February 14, 2011 that all Canadian manufacturers of food and drink provide detailed labeling data that must indicate the presence of allergens, gluten and sulphites in the product.

According to Health Canada, the regulations, which require the use of plain words like ‘milk’  or ‘wheat’, must list all allergens in smaller components of the product.

Announced by Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, the new rules dictate that should a product, for example, contain the ingredient ‘spices’, the labels must state if it contains allergens, gluten or sulphites.

While beers such as stout, porter and ale and malt liquor are not under the new product labeling, ingredients like eggs, milk and fish-products that are utilized to purify spirits and wines must be named.

“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,” says Aglukkaq.

Estimates by Health Canada note that five to six per cent of children and about four per cent of adults are afflicted with food allergies.

While the addition of the new labels including data about gluten is heralded by the one-percent of the population affected by celiac disease–gluten affects these individuals by damaging the lining of the small intestines which prevents it from absorbing foods required for good health–the exemption of beer from the new labeling was hard fought.

Beer advocates stated that all celiac suffers are already aware that beer is made from grain and thus contains gluten, and noted that the new labeling requirements would make it too costly for micro breweries to absorb the necessary costs.

Not wanting to delay the label announcement, though not necessarily agreeing with the stance of the beer industry, Health Canada said it would work with the brewers, though the issue is not yet fully closed.

In a statement, Health Canada notes: “Any additional amendments dealing with enhanced labeling of beer will be dealt with once further consultations and discussions can be held.”

For more information on Health Canada, visit www.hc-sc.gc.ca.