Gluten-Free Food Labeling (Canada)

Description: The Canadian government has not released regulations regarding gluten-free labelling, but Canadian dietitians may be asked about this topic with the media attention surrounding the new US regulations. Under the Enhanced Labelling for Food Allergen and Gluten Sources and Added Sulphites, the presence of wheat, barley, rye, etc. must be clearly indicated on the label, even if it is an ingredient of another ingredient. However, this legislation applies only to ingredients that are intentionally added, not to the unintentional presence of gluten through cross contamination during manufacturing. Health Canada’s position is that a food product would have to have less than 20 parts per million of gluten to use the “gluten free” claim. Companies need to test their products to ensure they are below this threshold.

Note: I’ve been to several small bakeries and restaurants that use “gluten-free” inappropriately.  Many eateries have started making gluten-free products to capitalize on the growing market, but do not recognize the risk of cross contact (contamination). Even if the ingredients are gluten-free, the product will very likely exceed 20 ppm of gluten if it is made in a facility that uses wheat flour. Wheat flour dust can remain suspended in the air for up to 48 hours, gradually settling on kitchen counters, appliances, etc. Even with very thorough cleaning, it is difficult to remove all traces of wheat flour. Under these circumstances, a restaurant/bakery would need to test their food and only label as gluten-free if the product was consistently below 20 ppm. I always ask restaurants how their gluten-free products were made and provide information when necessary.

Target Audience: Consumers and professionals.

Organization: Health Canada website

Website Link: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/allerg/cel-coe/gluten-position-eng.php

Posted in: Fall2013-Resources