Friday, August 3, 2012

Food Label Changes In Effect August 4th, 2012

In February 2011, the Government of Canada introduced new food labeling rules.  Click HERE to read what my thoughts were when the rule changes were first announced.  The new rules are a significant victory for those of us who must read EVERY label to make sure that something is safe to eat, whether due to allergies, celiac disease, or other health related concerns.  In my opinion, it also just makes sense.  Food labels are there for a reason, so that the consumer can decide whether they want to purchase a product containing the ingredients on the label.  If certain ingredients are left out, or clouded in difficult to understand language, then consumers are robbed of their right to make informed food choices. 

Although this may lead to people putting items back on the shelf, in many cases I think it has the potential to increase sales.  When I read labels for food that I purchase for my son, if there's any ambiguity as to whether it contains gluten or dairy (like when the term "spices" is placed on a label), I leave the item behind.  I'm hoping now that many items I previously put back on the shelf I'll be able to safely place in my cart and feed to my preschooler.

Although my son is still to young to read labels for himself, it will make teaching him how to shop for his own food much easier in the future.  It will also make it simpler for someone who doesn't regularly avoid certain ingredients to shop for food when entertaining or feeding someone with an allergy or food restriction.  It places more control in the hands of the consumer and increases consumer confidence when choosing what to buy. 

Food labels must now clearly identify the following, in simple terms:

Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Milk, Wheat, Gluten (they are separated due to the various sources of gluten), Eggs, Soy, Seafood, Sesame Seeds, Sulphites, Mustard Seed. 

Gone are the days of ambiguous, difficult to understand terms designed to make it difficult to identify just what a product contained.  The label can now either contain the ingredient directly, or can say CONTAINS, with the ingredient listed after it.  For more info, visit the following link  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/allergen/project_1220_rias_eeir-eng.php

While there are still some loopholes and the legislation is not perfect, it is a huge step forward in the area of transparency in labelling and food safety for consumers.  Everyone deserves to know what goes into their food so they can make informed choices, for whatever reason.  This new legislation makes it easier to be informed, without needing to spend ridiculous amounts of time reading labels and memorizing dozens of complicated terms that essentially mean the same thing.

 Clear, straightforward labels are a good thing!





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