Credits: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID
Food manufacturers will have to provide more complete information on food labels about allergens starting Saturday in a move that is being welcomed by allergy sufferers.
Manufacturers will be required to identify food allergens, gluten sources and sulphites by their common names to protect people from suffering a potentially life-threatening reaction to an ingredient.
For example, if casein is an ingredient in a prepackaged product, the word "milk" will have to be on the label.
The rules apply to allergens that are most likely to cause a reaction such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, sesame seeds, seafood and sulphites. New to the list as of Saturday is mustard.
The source of gluten now will have to be declared whether it's from barley, oats, rye, triticale or wheat. Added sulphites will also have to be declared.
"For people with a potentially life-threatening food allergy, this information is critical," Laurie Harada, executive director of Anaphylaxis Canada, said in a statement.
Harada, whose teenager has multiple food allergies, said Canadians have a right to know what's in the food they're buying.
Food allergies, celiac disease and sulphite sensitivity affect approximately 1.75 million Canadians, according to Health Canada. Anaphylaxis Canada puts the number higher, at 2.5 million Canadians with at least one food allergy.
Possible cross-contamination of food at a manufacturing plant and beer, which is considered to have standard ingredients, are exempt from the new labelling rules.
The industry group Food and Consumer Products of Canada, which represents food manufacturers, said its members have been providing much of the information on its products for some time.
"What's new is that we worked together to ensure precautionary food product labelling is comprehensive and consistent," spokesman Adam Grachnik said in an e-mail.