Adoption of the labeling law: urgent!

August 30, 2007 – With the permission of the FQMC, we reproduce here an article published in the Info Celiaque autumn 2007 as well as a standard letter in order to request, from the Canadian Minister of Health, urgent changes to the law on the labeling. It is important to participate in large numbers for you!

Adoption of the labeling law: urgent!

Over the past seven years, the Quebec Celiac Disease Foundation has closely followed the file of changes to be made to Canada ‘s Food and Drug Regulations . The foundation’s goal: to require clear and comprehensive labeling of all ingredients containing gluten and priority allergens in prepackaged foods sold in Canada.

Health Canada has done an excellent job of developing the proposed amendments. However, even if the latter are ready to be included in the law, the process seems to have stalled. Currently, manufacturers and importers follow a set of guidelines requiring mandatory labeling of priority allergens, including wheat, but not rye and barley. Legislation requiring clear and comprehensive labeling of all gluten sources and allergens in foods will allow the government to enforce regulations for both domestic and imported foods.

But, more importantly, clear and comprehensive gluten labeling will allow you to make safer food choices.

Here are the two most significant gluten labeling changes in this regulation:

Elimination of allergen labeling exemptions. Currently, when a seasoning containing wheat is added to a food, the regulations do not require the wheat to be declared in the ingredient list. Under the new regulations, all sources of gluten and priority allergens present in currently exempted foods will have to appear on the label.

Identification of the plant source in the common name of all hydrolyzed proteins and starches. Currently, regulations do not require hydrolyzed or modified proteins or starches from wheat to be identified as “wheat” on the label. This imposes an unnecessarily restrictive diet on people with celiac disease, as they are advised to avoid all foods containing these ingredients. Under the proposed legislation, the vegetable source of all hydrolysed proteins and starches will have to be declared on the label.

All together !

The Foundation needs your help in advocating, through letters to the Minister of Health and your MP, that Health Canada be lobbied to pass the Proposed Regulatory Amendments to Improve Labeling of Priority Allergens in foods . Attached is a sample letter with some points of argument that you could use. These letters can be posted postage free (without stamp). The Canadian association has undertaken a similar campaign with its members.

Letters or drawings sent by your children, describing what it is like to live with celiac disease, could have a particularly important impact. And if you attach a photo of your child, it will help give this issue a human face.
Thank you for your help!