Allergen Labelling in Canada
On December 14, 2016 the Canadian Food and Drug Regulations were amended to change requirements for ingredient labelling and food colour requirements.
There is a five-year transition period in place which ends on December 14, 2021. Thereafter, all pre-packaged food must comply.
There are 12 priority food allergens which must be labelled clearly:
- Crustaceans & Molluscs
- Sulphites (more than 10ppm)
- Tree Nuts (including almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts)
- Wheat & Triticale, including Spelt and Kamut
- Manufacturers can choose whether to state the allergen within the ingredient list or use a ‘contains’ statement to declare them separately at the end of the ingredient list.
- Sub-components of ingredients present must also have the allergens highlighted
- The common names of ingredients containing allergens must be used: wheat, milk, salmon.
- The allergen names must not be disguised or hidden e.g. ‘hydrolysed soy protein’ rather than ‘hydrolysed vegetable protein’
- Where substances containing allergens are used during the processing of foods and drinks, these must be declared on the label of the final product.
- Pre-packaged fruit and vegetables with a protective coating must also include the source of any allergens on the labels.
- Although it isn’t compulsory, manufacturers are encouraged to use ‘may contain’ statements to indicate the potential, unintentional cross-contamination during the manufacturing process.
Although the new regulations are not enforceable until December 14, 2021, the CFIA are encouraging companies to start using the new regulations for generating their labels as soon as possible.