CANADA – Food Allergy Canada has released the Allergen Management Guidelines for Food Manufacturers to assist the country’s 13,000+ food and beverage producers in controlling allergens in their facilities and providing safe options for customers with food allergies.
Over 3 million Canadians, including 600,000 children, are affected by food allergies such as those to peanuts, shellfish, wheat, eggs, and milk, which affect 1 in 2 households.
This group depends on having access to reliable ingredient data, yet existing food labeling procedures, particularly precautionary allergen labeling, are confusing to consumers and make it challenging to find safe food options.
“Food Allergy Canada, in collaboration with Université Laval’s Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Excellence Platform, Maple Leaf Foods, and leading food manufacturers, developed these guidelines to help Canadian food and beverage manufacturers manage allergens in their facilities and guide their decision on the appropriate use of precautionary allergen labeling.
“This approach will help provide safe food options for our community and labeling they can trust,” said Jennifer Gerdts, Executive Director, Food Allergy Canada.
The recently released Allergen Management Guidelines give Canadian food and beverage producers a framework for creating an allergen control plan or evaluating their existing one inside their plant.
To guarantee that precautionary allergen labeling may be utilized as an effective risk communication tool, the guidelines also offer advice on its use.
“I applaud the efforts of Food Allergy Canada to develop guidelines to help manufacturers establish their allergen control plans and standardize their precautionary allergen labeling.
“Our investment in this initiative will make it easier for food and beverage manufacturers to meet Canadian food safety and allergen labeling requirements while helping consumers make informed food purchasing decisions,” said The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
Managing allergies is a significant priority for food safety.
Allergens must be adequately handled throughout the production of food and beverages since they are regarded as a chemical hazard, in compliance with the Safe Food for Canadians Act and with preventive control methods.
According to Prof. Samuel Godefroy, Full Professor, Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Policies in the Department of Food Science and the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Food (INAF), Université Laval, these guidelines offer Canadian manufacturers a risk-based approach to managing food allergens, with the aim to meet Canadian food regulatory requirements while aligning with the most recent international advice stemming from the WHO/FAO Expert Consultation on food allergen risk assessment methodologies and allergen thresholds.
Sharon Mohammed, Director, Government and Industry Relations – Regulatory Management – Maple Leaf Foods also noted that food allergy is a serious public health issue and food and beverage manufacturers play a critical role in helping consumers make safe product choices.
“With the Allergen Management Guidelines, food manufacturers now have an industry-informed framework, that provides practical recommendations for all types and sizes of manufacturers,” she said.
The Allergen Management Guidelines for Food Manufacturers was developed using a multi-stakeholder approach, including food manufacturers, academia, consumers, and allergists.
This resource was informed by industry best practices, international industry guidelines, scientific and expert community reports, and Canadian food manufacturer expertise.