Federal government urged to act in the "public interest" and reject last minute industry efforts to scrap food labelling changes

TORONTO, Jan. 24 /CNW/ - Millions of Canadians affected by food allergy and celiac disease are awaiting with trepidation the fate of proposed food labelling regulations as the government continues to stall on granting final approval. The changes, first announced in July 2008, are now being publicly opposed by the powerful beer industry, putting the fate of the regulations at risk.

The new regulations were created to make it easier for people to understand food ingredient labels. As there is no way of predicting how severe an allergic reaction may be and no known cure for anaphylaxis, avoidance of allergens is the only means of staying safe. Food allergy is one of the leading causes of potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reactions.

"People with food allergy and celiac disease have a right to know what is in their food and beverages," said Laurie Harada, Executive Director of Anaphylaxis Canada and herself the parent of a teen with multiple food allergies. "This can quite literally be a life and death issue for many Canadians. We urge the government to act in the public interest and approve these regulations now."

The current policy is not stringent enough to ensure such accurate and clear descriptions of food ingredients on pre-packaged foods. That's why Anaphylaxis Canada supports the Proposed Amendments to Enhance the Labelling of Allergens, Gluten Sources and Added Sulphites.

While respecting industry concerns, Anaphylaxis Canada points out that there have been extensive stakeholder consultations with Health Canada over the past two and a half years and there will be an 18 month phase-in process for the regulations. It is too late to amend the proposed food labelling regulations; either the government approves them or the costly and lengthy process will have to start over.

After twelve years of advocacy from the community for clearer food labelling, these long awaited changes may now be at risk because of the influence of private interests. If the current food labelling shortfalls are not addressed, there will be continued health and food safety costs, including:

  • More emergency department visits following accidental food exposure
  • Limited access to safe, nutritious foods for a growing population afflicted by food allergy and celiac disease
  • Costly recalls because it is impossible to hold food manufacturers, importers and distributors to standards that have not been clarified and are not mandatory.

"The government announced changes to the regulations more than two years ago but they have yet to be finalized," said Ms. Harada. It's time to keep their promise."

Anaphylaxis Canada is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping those at risk for anaphylaxis and those who care for them. We are committed to creating a safer world for people with food allergies through research, education and advocacy. More information can be found at www.anaphylaxis.ca.

SOURCE Anaphylaxis Canada

For further information:

Christopher Holcroft
Principal, Empower Consulting
for Anaphylaxis Canada
416-996-0767
Chris_Holcroft@yahoo.com

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