Technology & Science

Health Canada reviews 'may contain' food labels

Health Canada announced Wednesday that it is reviewing its policy on 'may contain' statements found on food labels and intended to warn consumers of potential allergens.

Health Canada announced Wednesday that it is reviewing its policy on "may contain" statements found on food labels and intended to warn consumers of potential allergens.

The agency says it wants to provide better information to consumers about the allergens that may have been accidentally introduced into manufactured foods. It also says that it has, along with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,received complaints from consumers confused about what allergens certain products contain.

"It is estimated that as many as 1.2 million Canadians suffer from food-related allergies.In addition, it is estimated thatone in 133 people are afflicted with celiac disease.For these people, a precautionary statement can be an important tool to help them choose foods that will not trigger their food allergy or sensitivity," Health Canada said in a statement.

The review will focus on the labelling of products that contain common allergenssuch as peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, soy, milk, eggs, fish including crustaceans and shellfish, wheat and sulphites.

Health Canadasays it will also identify specific statements that the food industry could use on labels, as well as their conditions of use.

"Stakeholders will be consulted to ensure that any changes will provide consumers with better information to help them prevent allergic reactions," it said.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is also issuing anotice to food manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers to ensure that the foods they sell are safe for all consumers, including those with food allergies.