On July 26, 2008, the Canadian federal government released
proposed amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations.
The proposed amendments will enhance the labelling for specific
food allergens, glutens and added sulphites, mandating a
declaration of the sources of common food allergens and gluten
that are present in prepackaged food products.
Currently, the Food and Drug Regulations require
that the ingredients of prepackaged products be listed on the
label in descending order of proportion by weight. The
regulations exempt certain components of ingredients or classes
of ingredients from being stated in the list of ingredients and
do not require the source of the specific ingredient to be
stated on the packaging.
The proposed amendments would change these labelling
requirements for prepackaged food products in two ways. First,
if a common food allergen or gluten is used in producing the
food, the label would be required to disclose the source of the
allergen or gluten. The proposed amendments would apply to food
allergens including those derived from any of the following
foods: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia
nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, sesame
seeds, wheat, kamut, spelt, triticale, eggs, milk, soybeans,
crustaceans, shellfish, fish or gluten from the grains of the
following cereals: barley, oats, rye, triticale, wheat, kamut
and spelt. The source of the food allergen or gluten would be
required to be either included in the list of ingredients on
the label, in parentheses immediately following the common name
of the ingredient, or in a statement that begins, "Allergy
and Intolerance Information – Contains:"
Second, the proposed amendments would require the label to
contain a declaration of added sulphites when they are present
in prepackaged products in amounts greater than 10 parts per
There are several exceptions to the proposed regulations.
These include products packaged from bulk on retail premises
(except prepackaged products that contain a mixture of nuts);
individual portions of food served by a restaurant, other
commercial enterprise, vending machine or mobile canteen; and
meats, meat by-products, poultry, and poultry by-products that
are prepared on retail premises. These exceptions do not apply
if a list of ingredients is voluntarily provided on the
Once the final regulations are published in the Canada
Gazette, manufacturers and importers will have one year to
adopt the new labelling requirements. However, if a
manufacturer changes the label within the first year after the
regulations are published to include the statement referred to
above, the proposed regulations would apply immediately.
Stakeholders have been invited to submit comments on the
proposed amendments before October 24,
The content of this article is intended to provide a
general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should
be sought about your specific circumstances.
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