Timeline: it took a long time to get the new label law

It took a long time to get to this week’s announcement on Canada’s new allergy law.  Here’s a timeline:

Petition from Allergy/Asthma Information (AAI) patient group asking Health Canada (HC) for complete allergen labelling on food products.

HC and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada formed a joint committee to develop a science-based list of foods causing severe allergies and sensitivities.

October 15, 1994
Pre-publication of a regulatory proposal in Canada Gazette, Part I, for mandatory label declaration of sulphites present in foods at a level ≥10 ppm.

March 11, 1996
Consultation document sent for comment to stakeholders (food and beverage industry, health professionals, patient & consumer groups) about proposed labelling of allergens and gluten sources.

March 31, 1998
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) issued an advisory letter to food manufacturers, importers and distributors encouraging voluntary labelling of proposed allergen list.

Common Allergenic Foods and Their Labelling in Canada-A Review, written by Zarkadas, et al. published in the Canadian Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 1999:4:118-141.

A Business Impact Test (BIT) commissioned by HC and CFIA to consult with industry on potential costs of implementing allergen labelling.

February 19, 2004
HC issued letter announcing: “Proposed Regulatory Amendments to Enhance Labelling of Priority Allergens in Foods”, to be published in Canada Gazette, Part 1, in mid-2004 and asking for stakeholder feedback.

September 27, 2004
Letter from HC to stakeholders that fining agents derived from milk, egg and fish used in standardized alcoholic beverages will be exempt from label declaration, but that labelling of priority allergens, gluten and sulphite would apply to beer and wine.

March 23, 2007
CFIA issued allergen labelling alert to industry. http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2007/20070323e.shtml

June 2008
Allergy and celiac organizations support write-in campaign, led by Allergic Living Magazine, urging the federal government to pass food labelling regulations drafted by HC. Over 4000 letters sent to the Prime Minister.

July 22, 2008
HC issued letter urging manufacturers to declare major food allergens, gluten sources and added sulphites ≥10ppm: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/allergen/guide_ligne_direct_indust-eng.php

July 26, 2008
Amendments to Food and Drug Regulations for allergen, gluten and sulphite labelling, were published in Canada Gazette, Part 1, with a 120 day consultation period.

July 26, 2008
Minister of Health Tony Clement announced: “The Government of Canada is taking action to protect the health and wellbeing of Canadians with food allergies and celiac disease…these new proposed labelling requirements will provide Canadians with the information they need to manage their own allergies, and give parents greater assurance about the food they give their children who may have allergies.”

July-November 2008
Over 140 comments submitted from the food and beverage industry, consumers, patient groups, health professionals, and other governments, for review by HC.

March 11, 2009
CFIA issued reminder notice about allergen labelling. http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/invenq/inform/allerge.shtml

June 2010
Health Canada’s Modifications to Schedule 1220 Regulation Amendments announced: Addition of mustard seed to list of allergens “Allergy and Intolerance Information- Contains:” statement to be changed to “Contains:” (same as USA). Fining agents derived from eggs, fish or milk used in the production of alcoholic beverages will no longer be exempt from labelling Transition period for industry changed from 12 to 18 months

October 2010-February 2011
Public awareness campaign begun by allergy and celiac associations urging government to pass food labeling regulations. To date, over 8500 letters/emails sent to the Prime Minister in support of regulations.

November 2010
Letters sent from allergy groups (Canadian Society of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, Anaphylaxis Canada, AAIA, AQAA, Allergic Living), Canadian Celiac Association and Dietitians of Canada urging Minister of Health Aglukkaq to pass food labelling regulations.

December 16, 2010
Minister of Health Aglukkaq met with Anaphylaxis Canada representatives and provided assurance that regulations would pass in 2011.

January 2011
Minister of Health Aglukkaq issued letters to Anaphylaxis Canada, Canadian Celiac Association and Dietitians of Canada assuring them that regulations are top priority and will be passed in early 2011.

February 1, 2011
Letters from Dietitians of Canada urged the Prime Minister to pass regulations immediately.

February 2, 2011
Open letter to Prime Minister, Minister of Health, Minister of Industry, President of the Treasury Board & Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Minister of Agriculture, urging government to pass regulations immediately. Letter was signed by: Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Canadian Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Foundation Anaphylaxis Canada Association québécoise des allergies alimentaires Allergy/Asthma Information Association Canadian Celiac Association Fondation québécoise de la maladie coeliaque Allergic Living Magazine
http://www.celiac.ca/press/Group_Letter_to_Prime_Minister_Harper_Feb_2_2011.pdf http://www.anaphylaxis.ca/content/whatsnew/hot_topics.asp

February 3, 2011
Letter sent to the Prime Minister in support of passing food labelling regulations by Canada’s peak body of allergy, the Canadian Society of Allergy & Clinical Immunology: http://www.csaci.ca/index.php?page=13

February 14, 2011
Minister Aglukkaq announces published of labeling law, with the notable exemption for beer.

About David E. Fowler

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