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Canadian Gluten Free Labelling for Oats

Author: Government of Canada : Contact: news.gc.ca

Published: 2014-11-15

Synopsis and Key Points:

Intent to allow use of gluten-free claims on specially produced oats and foods containing these oats when sold in Canada.

Main Digest

Today, on behalf of the Honorable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar Kelly Block announced Health Canada's intent to allow the use of "gluten-free" claims on specially produced oats and foods containing these oats when sold in Canada.

Health Canada will consult with the public and stakeholders for a 75-day period before the Minister issues a final Marketing Authorization to allow this claim. Canadians are encouraged to provide comments on this Notice before January 27, 2015.

Grains such as wheat, rye and barley contain gluten and are widely used in the production of many foods. People with celiac disease must avoid eating gluten protein found in these grains to manage this disease and prevent serious health problems.

This proposed change is based on an extensive review of scientific literature and evidence, which shows that most people with celiac disease can safely eat foods made from specially produced oats that contain levels not exceeding 20 parts per million of gluten from wheat, rye, barley or their hybridized strains. Health Canada's decision was also informed by market intelligence and information on consumer buying habits compiled by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

Today's announcement is another step the Government of Canada is taking to improve the way food is labeled so that consumers have the information they need to make healthy and safe food choices.

Quick Facts

Celiac disease is a medical condition caused by an adverse or negative reaction to gluten. Individuals affected by this disease have a reduced ability to absorb nutrients. About 1 in 133 Canadians is affected by Celiac disease.

Manufacturers who produce oats that are labeled as "gluten-free" must be able to demonstrate that this claim is truthful. This is required under Canada's federal labelling regulations.

AAFC scientists have worked with the Canadian Celiac Association to develop a method that can be used to ensure that oats do not become contaminated with wheat, rye, barley, or their hybridized strains throughout every step of production - from planting to retail.

The United States and some countries in Europe currently allow a "gluten-free" claim on foods containing these specially produced oats.

Kelly Block - Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar

"Canadians with celiac disease rely on accurate food labels that clearly state if a product contains gluten. Allowing manufacturers to label their products as "gluten-free" when they use these specially produced oats will make it easier for Canadians to identify products that they can safely eat and broaden the range of food choices that will provide a nutritional benefit."

Anne Wraggett - President of the Canadian Celiac Association

"We are pleased that Health Canada is taking steps that will benefit the celiac community through allowing gluten-free claims on specially produced oats. Oats are a nutritious grain and can add variety for those who must follow a strict gluten-free diet for life. The term "gluten-free oats" on labels will make it much easier for the gluten-free consumer to identify safe products."

Shelley Case, RD - Dietitian and Member of the Canadian Celiac Association Professional Advisory Board

"Oats are a good source of fiber, iron and other nutrients which are often lacking in the diet of those with celiac disease. The decision to allow gluten-free claims on specially produced oats and foods containing these oats will provide celiac individuals with more nutritious gluten-free food options."

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