Category Archives: Allergens

Improved Food Allergen Labelling – the Battle and the Reward

Below is my latest blog from the Huffington Post on the soon-to-be-required improved Canadian allergen labeling requirements.  Since posting it, I learned more about the advocacy that went into getting the amended labelling regulations implemented.

Huge kudos to the folks at Allergic Living Magazine, who I understand advocated mightily alongside Anaphylaxis Canada and the Canadian Celiac Association.  In addition to bringing the issue of allergen food labeling to the table, they spurred this letter-writing campaign, resulting in 5,000 Canadians writing directly to Stephen Harper to force action.  This is what Allergic Living’s Editor, Gwen Smith had to say about the frustratingly-long process, just days before the announcement that the new regulations would be passed (the two opening paragraphs made me laugh out loud!). Continue reading

Celebrating Canada!

This week, we celebrated Canada Day (the national day of Canada, which celebrates the uniting of three colonies into a single country within theBritish Empire).  So, in honour of my favourite country, some cool Canadian food-related tid-bits. Enjoy!

  • Nestlé Coffee crisp and Smarties – seriously delicious chocolates that are not available in the US. If you haven’t tried them, trust me you should.
  • The Conference Board of Canada’s Centre for Food in Canada – a forum where leaders have come together to shape a major new Canadian Food Strategy.  The Centre works closely with the leaders of Canada’s food sector, governments, educational institutions and other institutions to plan the future of Canada’s food industry.  I was fortunate enough to attend the Conference Board’s Canadian Food Summit in February of this year – for my thoughts on the Summit, check out this blog post.
  • The Local, Sustainable Food Movement – there are a number of great (not for profit!) organizations throughout Canada promoting sustainable food, i.e. food that is healthy for consumers and animals, does not harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage for the farmer, and supports and enhances rural communities.  A couple of my favourites: Local Food Plus certifies farms and processors for environmentally and socially sustainable practices, and Sustain Ontario, a cross-sectoral alliance that takes a collaborative approach to research, policy development and action by addressing the intersecting issues related to healthy food and local sustainable agriculture.
  • Enhanced Allergen Labelling – Health Canada’s new food allergen labelling requirements come into force on August 4, 2012.  Bravo to Health Canada for recognizing that food allergies and intolerances are ongoing public health issues which significantly impact many people in the Canadian public.  The new regulations require manufacturers to clearly identify priority food allergens (peanuts, eggs, milk, tree nuts, wheat, soy, sesame seeds, seafood, sulphites, and mustard), gluten sources and added suphites on packaging.
  • Ice Wine – For those who don’t know, ice wide in a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that were frozen while still on the vine.  It’s a thick, syrupy, delicious beverage and Canada is its largest producer.
  • The Government’s Commitment to Food Safety - in the 2012 Federal budget, the Government affirmed its ongoing commitment to food safety by unveiling its plan to invest $51.2 million over the next two years to strengthen Canada’s food safety system.  This money will be shared by the Canadian Food Inspection (CFIA), Public Health and Health Canada.
  • Poutine – fries, gravy and cheese.  Nuff said.
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To Show or Not to Show (nutritional information that is…)

As reported by cbcnews yesterday, Ottawa-based advocacy group the Centre for Science in the Public Interest is pushing for the disclosure of more information about the foods we eat in restaurants.  This is not the first time this issue has reared its head (for example, in 2009 anOntario private member’s bill required fast-food restaurants to provide nutrition labels on menus) and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Continue reading

Gluten-Avoiders rejoice!

Gluten-avoiders rejoice – yet another regulatory body has moved towards a uniform definition of the term “gluten-free”, price a move which helps those who avoid gluten make informed decisions about the foods they eat.

Gluten, more about like many other known allergens, has been getting a lot of attention in recent years as the number of gluten-free consumers increases and companies recognize the importance of providing choices for those consumers.  As the need and market for these products has increased, regulatory authorities have put into place rules to reinforce the importance of accurate labeling of known allergens, including gluten. Continue reading