Notice to Canadians with celiac disease or other gluten-related disorders

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has temporarily suspended enforcement of certain food labelling requirements in order to address potential food shortages in the Canadian retail sector, prevent food waste, and support Canada's economy without compromising food safety. The CFIA posted a notice to industry on April 6, 2020 regarding the labelling of foodservice products for sale at retail.

Under this measure, the CFIA is providing flexibility for certain labelling requirements for products which had been packaged for use in the foodservice industry by restaurants, hotels or institutions. Part of this measure temporarily allows food products that were made, packaged and labelled in Canada for foodservice use, that are labelled according to US requirements, to be sold at retail in Canada. Food safety-related aspects of food labels, such as a list of ingredients and a food allergen or gluten source declaration, if applicable, are still required as part of the product information available to consumers.

Products which were labelled according to US labelling regulations could contain certain ingredients that are derived from barley, specifically malt flavour or extract and yeast extract. While information on Canada's priority allergens and gluten sources will continue to be required on or with product labels, some products originally labelled for the US market might not identify barley present in these ingredients, because US labelling regulations do not include enhanced declaration of gluten sources.

Consumers with celiac disease or gluten-related disorders should read food labels carefully and may wish to avoid any foods which list malt flavour or extract or yeast extract as ingredients. Malt flavouring can be used in a variety of foods, including baked goods, cereals, beverages and candies. Yeast extract can be found in foods such as soups, sauces, seasoned chips and other savoury products.

Note that labelling requirements for gluten free claims are very similar in Canada and the U S which means any foods represented as "gluten free" on their label have to meet strict criteria and cannot contain gluten above 20 parts per million. Gluten free products are not permitted to contain malt flavour or extracts or yeast extracts.

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