Health Canada Representative Michael Abbott, spoke at the Family Allergy Conference, about the proposed labeling law here in Canada.
The Health Canada web site talks about the Stakeholders and the proposed legislation, namely three parts Government, food industry and consumers. He did not list how equal the representation has or will be in making of the clear labeling law.
The law, if it passed, would require clear labeling of the top eight allergens. Ingredients currently do not always reflect the “source” of an ingredient such as casein, flavors ect. Even if the law passes, an extended grace period for manufacturers will be given. I find it, as many of my readers, frustrating that in Canada when dairy is hidden in enriched flours, flavors, artificial butter, calcium casemate, caramel, high protein flour, lactalbumin, lactose, simplesse and many many more.
July 2008 people where allowed to make public comments to Health Canada. Public face to face consultations will be happening in the following cities Ottawa, Edmonton, Vancouver, Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal, in November and December 2009. This will give the allergic and allergic parents the chance to voice their concerns.
The bill will also address what the term “allergy free” and what should it mean legally. It will not address small print concerns. All gluten will have to be listed, if it is more than 100 MMP, allergens will also have to be listed in Alcohol.
Waxes on fruit and vegetables in packaged items will have to be listed. Their will be exceptions for loose fruit and vegetables. I take this to mean on a bag of apples it will list milk or soy is in the wax coating in the ingredients, but a loose apple will not list milk in the wax. I also take this to mean corn will also not be listed in waxes because it is not a priority allergen in Canada, according to Health Canada, corn can however be in the waxes.
He also spoke of the precautionary labeling of ingredients commonly known as “may contain” This law will not cover these concerns. Health Canada is reviewing the over use and misuse of these statements. Interestingly people are more likely to avoid the statement “People with X allergy should not consume this product” compared to “Product may contain X. Also the public views “Made in a facility with X differently than may contain X. Yet there are no standard differences, or any real differences between these statements.
I spoke to Michael Abbott briefly, after his speech about products being made on the same line as milk yet being labeled as milk free. He did not seam to be aware of how common this problem is. He also said the labeling will not cover packaging made of allergens so a product that does not contain soy but is packaged in plastic made from soy will not have to say anything about soy.
I also went to the Health Canada’s booth at the conference. They had pamphlets on all the priority allergens in Canada but mustard, the newest priority allergen in Canada. I asked for the list of food manufacturers, who are trying to slow down clear labeling laws in Canada, they refused. Though the representative admitted it would be both fun and fair if he could give that information out.