Monday, February 15, 2010

Canadian Food Allergen Labeling: May Contain Nuts?

Calling all Canadians!! I know that I have a lot of Canadian readers, so let us know about the labeling practices there. I'm sure they're somewhat similar since Canada and the U.S. have so many shared products but have you noticed any differences?

Labels are on my mind a lot these days since I have been getting so many reader questions and have been having my own questions.

One thing I wonder about is the use of "may contains" labeling. Do you find that frequently on Canadian products and do you trust it? I've also noticed that some products that are U.S. based, when sold in Canada, have "nut-free" versions we don't have here. One example is Quaker Oats granola bars. What are some others?

Any input is welcome about labeling woes in Canada--or maybe you can tell us what you're doing better than the U.S.

Thanks in advance for the info!


Camilla said...

Yes here is Canada The Canadian Food Inspection Agency/Health Canada requires products that contain the top 8 allergens be listed as a statement in Bold at the bottom of an ingrediant list or the statement "May Contain" will be in bold with a list of potential allergens the product may have come in contact with. You can find out more at
These guidelines are currently in the process for review & will be updated.
I trust the labelling currently, but improvements can't hurt :) If it says "may contain" we avoid it. We are lucky here we have loads of peanut free, gluten free, etc products.

"Dare" Brand makes many products in a dedicated nut free facility (crackers, candies, etc. Nestle although I boycott them for numerous reasons (violates the World Health Organizations policy on marketing of artificial baby milks)has many nut free products as well.

Sean said...

We see a lot of "may contain nuts", and treat them no differently than any other nut-related warning -- the product is a no go.

On the other hand, if I see "may contain wheat" or some other allergen but no reference to nuts, I usually feel safe with the product. I can't imagine they'd flag one allergen risk but not peanuts.

Purely anecdotally (we have grandparents in the states who have to shop for our daughter), it seems like it's easier to find big, bright "no peanuts" labels on food in Canada.

And, of course, thank god for smarties.

Mallergies said...

I agree with the previous comments and will like to add that the Canadian Food Labeling is also easier to identify under the CAC (Certified Allergen Control™ (CAC) at

We can now find a larger range of products identified with the CAC logo in our local supermarkets. This program is very good to identify quickly peanuts and nuts free foods and include local brands like Leclerc (biscuits, granolas, and snacks), Lambert (ice creams), Krispy Kernels (snacks), Metro Richelieu (supermarket home brand) and Perfection (healthy snacks).

Unknown said...

Several years ago I had to give up eating Ben and Jerry's ice cream because, rather suddenly, their entire line got "may contain"ed. In fact virtually all ice creams here are labeled that way now, which is heart breaking. We have Chapman's ice cream which markets itself as nut-free, but to be honest, Chapman's is no B&J's. Currently I'm on vacation in Vermont and my wife and I visited the Ben and Jerry's factory, where I discovered that NONE of the flavours were listed as "may contain". I can tell you that there is no dedicated nut-free line, and when I asked about this,I was given the "we clean and sterilize..." line. So I asked why, if this was the case, the US packaging didn't label similarly to Canadian packages. As it turns out, Ben and Jerry's don't make Ben and Jerry's ice cream in Canada; they have it manufactured under liscence by a Canadian company. This doesn't really help me since now I have no idea who makes B&J's in Canada, hence have no idea about quality control; the "may contain" label is pervasive. I find it interesting though that US labeling doesn't require similar labeling, although I will tell you that in the last few years virtually ALL manufactured foods that I used to eat have now been labeled as may contain.

Ally said...


I wanted to ditto the new regulations for having to label major allergens, however cross-contaminates don't have to be labelled- which I wish they would change. I am greatful for those companies that do it themselves and I trust that if I read a cross-contaminate warning for milk or eggs, but not nuts/peanuts that it is safe because why would they label some and not others? I tend to do a lot of emailling for other stuff and just got a rather upsetting reply from Wilton whom manufacture cake decorations in a plant that processes peanuts but offers no warning. I mean really I decorate cakes because my daughter has allergies so we don't buy cake- other by sprinkle for there children for fun, out of all things why they would not declare a cross-contaminate like peanut Aaaargh.

Anyways, kit-kat and coffee crisp and a bunch of things sold in both US and Canada have different plants specific to the country and label accordingly. We don't seem to have a hard time finding peanut/nut-free foods at the regular grocery market.