What We Do: Food & Product Labelling

Advocacy on behalf of the anaphylactic consumer is a vital part of this Committee. This is an area that requires many dedicated volunteers who are willing to take the time to understand some of the food and product labelling legislation, standards, guidelines and issues regarding foods, cosmetics, drugs, personal and household products.

It involves:

  • The Canadian food Inspection Agency (CFIA), a new government agency which has the task of delivering all federal food inspection activities for Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada and Industry Canada
  • Codex Committee on Food Labelling (CCFL), which is a subcommittee hosted by Canada under the Codex Alimentarius Commission, established in 1962, to set international food standards
  • The Food and Consumer Products Manufacturers of Canada (FCPMC) which includes companies involved in the manufacturing and marketing of food, beverages and consumer products
  • The Canadian Restaurant & Foodservices Association (CRFA)
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Manufacturers of personal care products
  • Consumer groups, the Anaphylaxis Network of Canada and its membership of anaphylactic individuals and families

The Food & Product Labelling Committee is current working on:

  • educating the allergic consumer
  • communicating to government and industry the needs of its allergic members
  • identifying the existing problems of precautionary labelling
  • lobbying for change to expand the choices of allergen safe foods

Precautionary labelling of "may contain…" and other similar terms was supposed to be a temporary strategy used at the discretion of food manufacturers. It is not government legislated or mandatory. That means there could be products in the marketplace that have no warning and are not necessarily safe for the allergic consumer.

Allergic consumers should not automatically assume that any particular food or product is 100% safe. Read the listing of ingredients each and every time. Call the manufacturer's consumer service line and ask for more information. Also remember to check food and/or beverages every time you eat out (at a friend's house, at a restaurant, or at a banquet). A good rule of thumb is to play it safe, always check and eat only if you are carrying epinephrine.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Health Hazard - Consumer Complaints

Also check before purchasing over the counter medications, vitamins, lotions and shampoo and ask the pharmacist to enter your allergy information on file.

Here are ways you can help:

  • write letters
  • use your buying power to reward those manufacturers who comply with good manufacturing practices
  • volunteer your skills on the Food & Product Labelling Committee (416-785-5666)

We have also developed Allergen Information Cards which contain labelling and other information on Egg, Fish, Shellfish, Soybean, Wheat, Milk, Peanut, Sulphite and Tree nut. These can be purchased from the Anaphylaxis Network individually or as a set.