On Monday March 21, Kelowna – Lake Country MP Ron Cannan rose in the house of Commons to speak on the new labeling legislation. Below is the Hansard transcript of what he said.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to express my support for Motion No. 546, which was brought forward by the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook.
This is a big issue for my constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country, as we have heard from folks across the country. My niece and her daughter are celiac. I met with folks last week who were affected by this.
The motion is a great step forward, and I appreciate the leadership taken by the Minister of Health. I had the opportunity to be at the announcement that day along with my colleagues. I remember the smiles on the faces of Mr. George and his family with whom we have worked so hard over the years to bring this initiative forward. I believe consumers should have an informed choice. Labeling improvement and the regulations will help those Canadians suffering from anaphylactic reactions.
We perhaps do not realize how important this is to the approximately 2.8 million Canadians who suffer different allergic reactions to sulphites and other things. By doing this, we will be giving them a quality of life that they have not had an opportunity to enjoy.
It is also much more expensive when individuals who suffer allergic reactions go to the store with a shopping list on an 8.5×11 piece of paper of all the different potential chemical analyses, as my hon. colleague from the NDP mentioned. My niece said that she felt like a scientist when she went to the store. There is an additional cost and burden on young families. The motion would help provide more options for these people and would help bring down the cost. It also would help them with their food budget.
We are highlighting for the Government of Canada additional issues with regard to this specific issue, such as allergens, gluten sources and added sulphites.
On February 16, the regulations were published by Health Canada. These regulations will come into force on August 4, 2012, and require priority allergens to be clearly indicated on the label on the food either in the list of ingredients or in a separate statement that begins with the word “contains”. These labeling requirements will improve the quality of life for individuals and their families suffering from severe food allergies, celiac disease or sulphite sensitivity. By minimizing the risks associated with the consumption of undeclared allergens, gluten sources and sulphites, the government is maximizing the choice of safe and nutritious foods for those with dietary restrictions.
Until the new regulations come into force, Canadians can find additional information on what to look for on food labels to safely identify the presence of allergens, gluten sources and sulphites in Health Canada’s pamphlet entitled “Common Food Allergies – A Consumer’s Guide to Managing the Risks”.
I thank my colleague and all members of the House for supporting the motion, as we continue to provide important regulatory and labeling changes for Canadians in order to provide them with a quality of life that they have been unable to enjoy.