Canada Adds an 11th Priority Allergen

Mustard has become Canada’s 11th priority allergen after a review by Health Canada as announced last week.

Health Canada had been reviewing several different foods including garlic and onions but only mustard made the list.  This is because while mustard allergies are not exactly rampant, they are more common than you might think and the severity of the recorded reactions has prompted concern.  Garlic and onions were considered but the evidence of recorded reactions shows less severity and more intolerance as opposed to an anaphylactic response.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’re aware that I had a cousin react to mustard in the spring which shocked everybody in the family except me.  Given what I do, I’ve been aware for several years that Europe labels for the top 12 food allergens (plus lupin) which includes Canada’s top 10 with the addition of mustard and celery.  Since November of 2008, I’ve been adding mustard, celery and lupin to the list that I send my ingredient suppliers to document.  The results prompted me to add celery to the list of allergen declarations on the Nonuttin’ website.

Like prior allergen labeling laws before it, this new regulation will require  food manufacturers to plainly list mustard if it is an ingredient.  Currently, if you’re allergic to mustard, you must avoid any product that simply lists “spices” as a food ingredient.  If you take a look at any of the products in your food cupboard, particularly savory items, you’ll find a lot of products that only indicate “spices”.

It would appear at first glance that this must be a huge relief for mustard allergy sufferers.   My hope is that the amount of products they can eat will increase with better labeling.   Unfortunately, as many of you with other food allergies can attest, food allergen labeling can backfire when manufacturers put all of the priority allergens on their label.

In any case, the review has prompted Health Canada to put into place review procedures for the priority allergens as the prevalence of food allergies grows and more data is documented.  It’s not easy for food manufacturers but it really is necessary as we battle with increasing immune system issues.

Alana Elliott is the Founder and President of Libre Naturals (formerly Nonuttin’ Foods), a gluten free and allergy friendly food company she founded in response to her family’s many food allergies and immune disorders.  Please check out Libre Naturals at:  www.librenaturals.com