By Chris George
As a parent of a child with anaphylaxis – coping with severe, life threatening allergies – this February’s St. Valentines Day was especially sweet!
My family traveled to Ottawa this week to take part in an important federal government announcement concerning the labelling of allergens on Canadian food products.
Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced that new labelling laws will ensure allergens are clearly marked on all food products. For the George family – and for thousands of families across Niagara Region – this means a great deal less stress when grocery shopping and at meal time.
The new federal regulations will strengthen the labelling requirements by insisting on clearer language and the declaration of otherwise “hidden” allergens, gluten sources, and sulphites. Minister Aglukkaq stated, “All parents want to have confidence in the food they are serving their families, and these changes to food labels will make it easier for parents of children with food allergies to identify potentially harmful, if not fatal, ingredients in foods.”
Health Canada estimates that approximately five to six per cent of young children and three to four per cent of adults suffer from food allergies. Nearly one per cent of the population is affected by celiac disease, for whom the consumption of foods containing gluten can lead to long term complications. Health Canada’s full release is here:
So, what is the significance of this announcement?
Families like ours depend on food producers and packagers to label contents correctly. Over the years, labels concerning allergens have been getting better. However, there are still times when the label is unclear and we are unsure. When food contents become a guessing game, our family rule is that we don’t purchase the product. For our son’s health, we need to be 100% sure.
These new regulations will make our shopping trips a lot less confusing. Clear, consistent, standardized labeling will make shopping a lot easier. When these regulations come into effect, our family’s shopping trips will be safer.
We were very pleased to have made the trek from St. Catharines to be with the Minister in Ottawa for this special announcement. We are proud of the role the families in Niagara played in lobbying for necessary allergen labeling. Thank you to the 4 Niagara MPs who support Niagara Anaphylaxis Knowledge and Support Group (NASK) and thank you to the Health Minister, who advanced these important new regulations.
Further photos of Minister Aglukkaq and the George family are posted here:
My full comments at the Ottawa announcement are on-line here:
Further information at:
Chris George is a resident of St. Catharines, Ontario and a member of the Niagara Anaphylaxis Knowledge and Support Group
Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq speaking with the George family, Lisa, Chris and sons David and Alexander.
(Visit Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com – Niagara’s independent online site for posting news and commentary on matters of interest and concern to residents in our greater Niagara region and beyond.)
I am very happy with this government announcement concerning the labelling of allergens on Canadian food products.As I am a parent of two children with food allergies and sometimes making the choice with foods is very diffcult and frustrating.I will be happy and this may change our daily food purchasing habits.
As the mother of a child with multiple food allergies, I applaud NASK and our local MP’s in their work to make living safely with allergies possible.
In my work as an allergy and asthma nurse, I have encountered families that put an incredible effort into ensuring the safety of their children.
Avoidance is one of the key tools used in avoiding anaphylaxis (life-threatening allergic reaction). Knowing the ingredients in a food is paramount. Having clear labels to read makes this possible while allowing more options. Thank you again!
I am very privilaged to be part of the Anaphylaxis Motion M-546 initiative and am very grateful to NASK for their leadership in making life just a little safer an inclusive for our anaphylactic children.
As a mother of two children with life threatening allergies and on behalf of the Mississauga Anaphylaxis Group, I am so pleased to see allergen labelling regulations moving forward.
Grocery shopping is time consuming, given the thought process that must go into EVERY purchase – and not just food, but cosmetics and toiletries as well.
We must try to intuitively decipher which manufacturers can be counted on to give accurate information. We live by the motto, “When in doubt, check it out…or do without…”
Many of us have anaphylactic children who are venturing off to university and are now responsible for managing their allergies on their own. Family, friends, day cares, schools, etc. try to shop for items that are safe. I have spent my career in the packaged goods industry – so I know the questions to ask and who to ask…and I have a difficult time assessing the level of risk. How can we expect our children, family and friends to manage?
Our safety depends on accurate, complete labelling.
Thanks to all involved.
This is such important and wonderful news for families and individuals with food allergies/celiac disease. We were overjoyed to see the news of the government implementing the new regulations for food labelling. Thanks to all of the MP’s, the Health Minister, and all of you from Niagara whose hard work enabled this to happen. And I look forward to the successful passing of the Anaphylaxis Motion M-546 in the House of Commons. Our child has a brighter future due to this incredible work being done. Thank you.
Our deepest gratitude to MP Dean Allison, MP Rick Dykstra, MP Hon. Rob Nicholson, MP Malcolm Allen and all their staff, for their non-partisan support and continued efforts in working together and raising awareness for greater inclusivity and safety, for individuals in Niagara and within Canada that live 24/7 with the invisible medical condition of Anaphylaxis.
Improved product labelling ultimately will not just save lives, but will also further reduce preventable health-care costs associated with accidental exposure to major allergens. A further thank you to countless of other MPs, like MP Laurie Hawn, Edmonton Centre, that have shown support and compassion, and continue to raise awareness to improve the communities and “villages” our children live and play in by making it safer through education efforts. We are truly grateful, Thank You!
This is critical for the safety of all Canadians with life-threatening food allergies. As the mother of a child who has had severe anaphylactic reactions to milk, egg, tree nuts and peanuts, this means the world to me. I often liken the act of eating a new food to playing a game of Russian Roulette. You are holding your breath and hoping for the best because how sure can you be that all the ingredients are accurately labeled and the risks of cross-contamination in the facilities are presented if there are not such regulations to protect us? It is imperative for food allergic individuals to have the right to know exactly what ingredients are in the food they are purchasing without having to take risks or play detective. I applaud all involved for their efforts and am very thankful to you all for your part in moving these policies forward.
What a thrill it was to tell my son ( 9 years old and has multiple allergies) and show him the announcement regarding the changes to food labeling in Canada.
He did write a letter to our MP, Rick Dykstra in support of the changes and he has gained so much more than just food safety with the passing of the new legislation; he has seen first hand, that advocacy can make a difference. Thank you Rick Dykstra and all of your fellow MPs, who took his message to heart and kept the discussion on Anaphylaxis ongoing in Ottawa. Our thanks also to NASK members who persevered in their mission to educate ALL, about the seriousness of anaphylaxis.