BOTTOM LINE: The Food and Drug Regulations
("Regulations") were amended on August 4, 2012, to
include a definition for "gluten" as well as a new
description of prohibited claims. Health Canada has also set out
its position on the upper limits of gluten permissible (20 ppm), as
well as acceptable testing methods for gluten detection.
As "gluten-free" food claims continue to proliferate
wildly, Health Canada's new "Position on Gluten-Free
Claims" was incorporated into legislation on August 4, 2012.
Welcomed by many, it provides a more detailed approach to
WHAT'S THE GLUTEN ISSUE?
Individuals with celiac disease experience a wide range of
reactions from ingesting foods that contain gluten. Gluten is found
in sources such as oat, rye, wheat or barley, but can also migrate
into other foods through cross-contamination during manufacturing
or distribution. For those with Celiac's Disease, gluten can
damage the small intestine, preventing the absorption of necessary
nutrients. Other serious conditions can be related to Celiac's
Disease, such as certain cancers and infertility.
There are also those who have Gluten "sensitivity."
These people have many of the same symptoms as those with
Celiac's Disease, but without the autoimmune response.
"Gluten-free" claims are therefore regulated as
protecting the health and safety of individuals who require the use
of foods for special dietary use.
SO WHAT'S NEW?
Previously, the Regulations did not define
â€Ügluten' and simply restricted
"gluten-free" claims to products that did not contain
wheat, spelt, kamut, oats, barley, rye or triticale or any part
thereof. Given the realization that it is the protein portion of
the cereal grains that is of concern, the regulatory amendments now
prohibit "gluten-free" claims (or creating the impression
that a food is gluten-free) when the food contains any gluten
protein or modified gluten protein, including any gluten protein
fraction referred to in the definition of "gluten".
The new definition of "gluten" is: (a) any gluten
protein from the grain of any of the following cereals or the grain
of a hybridized strain created from at least one of the following
cereals: barley, oats, rye, triticale or wheat, kamut or spelt, or
(b) any modified gluten protein, including any gluten protein
fraction, that is derived from the grain of any of the cereals
referred to in (a) or the grain of a hybridized strain referred to
in (a). Say that fast ten times!
IS THERE ANY TOLERANCE? AND HOW IS IT
As a practical matter, there is a tiny bit of tolerance.
Although the Regulations still don't speak to this.
Health Canada's administrative position is that foods
labelled "gluten-free" may contain up to 20 parts per
million of gluten. As for test methodology, while Health Canada has
not specified a standard for gluten detection testing, it generally
endorses ELISA-based methodologies such as the R5 (Mendez) ELISA.
Health Canada will likely be codifying these administrative
positions in the future, so keep your eyes peeled for new
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