Food allergy is an on-going public health problem and continues to be a challenge to both the clinical community and the food industry. Health Canada, through its Food Program, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), have played a pro-active role in developing risk assessment and risk management procedures related to inadvertent consumption of allergenic ingredients by vulnerable consumers. Since the 1990's changes were brought to the Food and Drug regulations in order to better protect allergic consumers by imposing labeling requirements to clearly identify sources of priority food allergens in prepackaged foods. Further amendments are being considered.
Food Allergen Program
Health Canada's Food Allergen Research Program is a pioneering research initiative that was developed in the early 1990's in support of the changing Canadian regulatory environment. In the early stages of the program, a priority list of food allergens was established (Zarkadas M., Scott F.W., Salminen J. and Pong A.H. (1999), Common allergenic foods and their labelling in Canada - a review, Can. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol., 4:118-141). An ambitious method development program was launched by the Food Research Division, Bureau of Chemical Safety, to address the lack of methodologies for the detection of undeclared allergens in foods. Methods were developed for the detection of peanut, soy, milk, egg, hazelnut, Brazil nut and crustacean tropomyosins. Most of these methodologies have been transferred to CFIA laboratories and constitute the backbone of the Canadian compliance program with regards to the presence of undeclared allergens in foods.
For more information on the food allergen method development program, please contact the Food Allergen Program.