Food Allergy Canada recently released its Allergen Management Guidelines for Food Manufacturers, which includes online training and a user guide. The guidelines aim to support Canadian food and beverage manufacturers in managing allergens in their facility, enhancing food safety for consumers with allergies.
Food allergens such as peanuts, shellfish, wheat, eggs, and milk affect over 3 million Canadians, including 600,000 children, and impact half of Canadian households. Those with allergies rely on access to accurate ingredient information; however, current food labeling practices, specifically precautionary allergen labeling, can be confusing to consumers and make it difficult to navigate safe food options. Considered a chemical hazard, allergens must be effectively managed throughout the food and beverage manufacturing process with preventive control measures, in accordance with the Safe Food for Canadians Act.
Therefore, Food Allergy Canada, in collaboration with Université Laval's Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Excellence Platform, Maple Leaf Foods, and leading food manufacturers, developed the present guidelines to help Canadian food and beverage manufacturers manage allergens in their facilities and guide their decisions on the appropriate use of precautionary allergen labeling. The Allergen Management Guidelines provide a framework for Canadian food and beverage manufacturers on how to develop an allergen control plan or assess their current plan within their facilities. The guidelines also include recommendations on the use of precautionary allergen labeling to ensure it can be used as an effective risk communication tool.
The guidelines offer Canadian manufacturers a risk-based approach to manage food allergens, with the aim to meet Canadian food regulatory requirements while aligning with the most recent international advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Expert Consultation on food allergen risk assessment methodologies and allergen thresholds. The Allergen Management Guidelines provide food manufacturers with an industry-informed framework that includes practical recommendations for all types and sizes of manufacturers.
The Allergen Management Guidelines for Food Manufacturers was developed using a multi-stakeholder approach, including food manufacturers, academia, consumers, and allergists. This resource was informed by industry best practices, international industry guidelines, scientific and expert community reports, and Canadian food manufacturer expertise.