At a recent meeting Health Canada has initiated the formation of a Canadian Food Allergy Network. The intent is to promote initiatives to manage food allergy incidents and provide guidance supporting initiatives for the management of food allergies in Canada. Key items on this agenda are the current labelling amendments which would include gluten as a priority allergen, and addressing the issue of Precautionary Labelling that has become over- and misused.
At this first meeting, it was noted that the labelling amendments put forward nearly a year ago, are expected to be revised and finalized by the end of February for final government approval through Canada Gazette Part II. In the end it would mean that all labelling would have t meet these requirements by 2012.
Equally as important to our community, Health Canada did announce that it is now ready to re-visit the regulation governing the ‘gluten-free’ declaration. Key issues here include the matter of pure, uncontaminated oats and the need for (or not) a ‘safe threshold’ of gluten expressed in ‘parts per million’.
The international voluntary standards body ‘Codex’ has finalized revisions to its gluten-free standard with a threshold of 20 ppm, and added another category called ‘reduced gluten’ where foods specially processed to reduce the gluten content to 20 from 100 ppm can be so labelled. Countries are free to choose to adopt and/or adapt this standard at their discretion.
The United States FDA is in the process of finalizing its proposed regulation that was drafted to include a 20 ppm threshold. The final details and threshold limit has not yet been announced.