ARCHIVED - Consultation on Precautionary Labelling of Food Allergens

Notice to the reader

: The online consultation is now closed. Comments and suggestions received during the public consultation period are being considered in the finalization of this document. The final report will be made available as soon as possible.


As part of the development of new policies and regulations for food allergen labelling, Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are undertaking a public consultation. The goal is to update Health Canada's policy and guidelines on precautionary labelling so that they continue to contribute to achieving Health Canada's overall objectives:

  • to minimize risks associated with inadvertent consumption of undeclared food allergens and added sulphites in food; and
  • to maximize choice of safe and nutritious foods for consumers with dietary restrictions.

Combining these goals poses a challenge since precautionary labelling is essential when the possible presence of allergens in food due to cross contact is real and unavoidable, but at the same time, overuse of these statements can unnecessarily limit choices for those with food allergies.

The overall objective of this consultation is to seek feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, and engage them in discussion of the identified issues and proposed actions that could improve the current approach to advising allergic individuals of the possible inadvertent presence of priority allergens in pre-packaged foods sold in Canada.

The specific objectives are the following:

  • To inform stakeholders that an update of Health Canada policies and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) procedures related to allergen statements is being proposed.
  • To explain possible options to stakeholders and obtain their feedback on them.
  • To maintain positive, collaborative relationships between Health Canada and its stakeholders.
  • To give stakeholders the opportunity to listen to one another's perspectives.

The following key stakeholder groups will be invited to participate in the consultations:

  • Individual consumers
  • Food industry
  • Academia/research organizations
  • Health professional associations
  • Health/disease organizations, in particular allergy associations and celiac associations
  • Consumer and community associations
  • Youth organizations
  • Federal, Provincial, and Territorial governments

The Precautionary Labelling of Allergens Consultations have two components:

How to Get Involved

1. Online Consultation Workbook:

A consultation document will be available online through links on the Health Canada, Canadian Food Inpection Agency (CFIA), and the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Web sites.

The consultation workbook can be completed and submitted on-line starting November 13 til February 10, 2010 inclusive. Please select the following link to start the "Consultation Workbook".

Comments received from stakeholders and interested parties will be reviewed after the 90 day comment period.

Interested parties are encouraged to comment on the consultation workbook by February 10, 2010.

2. Regional Consultation Workshops:

In addition to seeking written feedback, Health Canada will be holding regional workshops to focus discussions on key issues. A selection process will be used to ensure that key stakeholders are represented in appropriate proportions since space at these meetings will be limited.

Stakeholder workshop dates and locations can be found on the table below. If you are interested in participating, please send your expression of interest by email to the region nearest you. We will respond by email.

In your email request, please indicate clearly the following information:

  • 1. In participating in this regional consultation workshop for this public consultation, I would be attending as
  • (a) an individual
  • (b) a representative of an organization
  • Organizations: food industry representatives, academia/research organizations, health professional associations, health/disease organizations, consumer and community associations, youth organizations, and federal/provincial/territorial governments.

If you are representing an organization:

  • 2. Which organization do you represent?
  • 3. Affiliation:
    1. Academia
    2. Industry
    3. Government
    4. Consumers
    5. Health/disease organization
    6. Health professional
    7. Other (please specify)
Location: Session Date: Contact: Express your interest of attending by:
Halifax 2009-11-23 2009-11-19
Toronto 2009-11-25 2009-11-23
Vancouver 2009-11-30 2009-11-25
Edmonton 2009-12-02 2009-11-27
Winnipeg 2009-12-04 2009-11-30
Ottawa 2009-12-07 2009-11-30
Montreal 2009-12-09 2009-11-30

Reporting to Canadians

Health Canada will make the results of this consultation available on this Web site.

If you have any questions, contact us at

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