Beer Industry Wins Exemption from Canadian Food Labeling Rules

February 15, 2011

Beer Industry Wins Exemption from Canadian Food Labeling Rules

Celiac and food allergy advocates express disappointment with last-minute change to regulations.

Canadian Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced yesterday that the government will be going forward with new food labeling regulations that require manufacturers to indicate when common allergens are present. Brewers, however, are temporarily exempt from the labeling rules, a last-minute change that disappointed the celiac and food allergy community.

For more than 10 years, the Canadian Celiac Association and food allergy groups have been working to bring more transparency to food labeling. The new rules require that allergens, including gluten, be noted clearly in the list of ingredients or in a “Contains” statement on the food or beverage label. Allergens present due to cross-contamination, however, are “beyond the scope” of new requirements, according to Health Canada’s Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement.

In the past few weeks, the beer industry lobbied for an exemption from the new rules, stating that individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance already know that gluten is in beer, and that changing the label would be an unnecessary cost to the brewer. Celiac and food allergy supporters, however, argued that leaving beer out of the requirements would pose too great a risk to consumers with dietary concerns.

In her announcement, Aglukkaq noted that, while brewers are currently exempt, the government would “consult with other countries which have introduced similar labelling rules,” according to The Globe and Mail.

Manufacturers affected by the new regulations will have some time to prepare. Compliance is required by August 4, 2012.

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