Check Your Labels!

Foods in Canada have to declare all ingredients that are present in foods. Recently a bill in Canada has been passed that all “hidden” allergens, gluten or sulphates need to be declared in the food product. This will be in complete effect by August 4, 2012, but already many companies are adjusting their labels.

Food Allergy Labelling Regulations:  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/_2011/2011_23-eng.php

Checking the ingredient list is very important when purchasing food or products if you are concerned with allergens being present. If you (or people you are serving/buying food for) have allergies, this is a very important place to confirm that it is safe.

 Note: people who are allergic to certain ingredients may not feel comfortable consuming items that say “May contain traces of…”, or “Made in a facility that processes…”

1.)    Check all labels for the ingredient list.

2.)    Keep all packaging if you are serving guests with anaphylaxis or allergies to be able to show them if they want to read the information themselves.

3.)    Do not assume a product is safe just because it is something you or your guest is not allergic to. There could be trace amounts or hidden ingredients written on the label. (i.e.- pesto contains tree nuts, Caesar salad has anchovies, sauces may contain soy)

4.)    Ingredients can change in your favourite store bought foods! Do not take this for granted and always check.

5.)     Submit questions to the company who made it if you have any questions or concerns.

6.)    If it is not you with the allergy but a guest, never hesitate to ask questions about allergies or ingredients. This shows your concern, and it is not at all annoying even if it is the twentieth time.

7.)    If you are hesitant about the ingredients, DO NOT CONSUME!

In my many years of travel, I have read numerous labels.  It is crazy how many items I took for granted to be safe that I did not consider safe to my standards. For example, when I was backpacking in New Zealand I did not always have access to a full kitchen so I tried to purchase some processed items like sauces or dry ingredients when cooking on the go. Always making my own pasta sauce at home, I never experienced purchasing it until New Zealand. I was shocked that when in the pasta aisle that out of twenty options, only ONE did not contain items I was not allergic to or was not processed in a fish, shellfish or peanut free facility. It drove travel companions nuts to find something that was suitable for me to eat with them. “What the heck do you eat!!?!?!”

But, I’ve never gone hungry.