General Mills Drops Cheerios Gluten-Free Claim

Canadian Celiac Association News Release

gluten-free-cheeriosOctober 20, 2017 (Mississauga, ON) The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has made an announcement that the words “gluten-free” will be removed from all Cheerios package sold in Canada by January 1, 2018.

The Canadian Celiac Association first objected to the claim in August 2016 and strongly recommended that people with celiac disease not consume the cereal, even though the box was labelled “gluten free”.

The announcement came in a letter addressed to a Canadian consumer who was one of many customer complaints to be filed against the products.

“We are delighted to hear that the regulators have determined that the claim must be removed from the packages”, said Melissa Secord, Executive Director of the Canadian Celiac Association.  “Based on the advice of the members of our Professional Advisory Board, the experts of the Gluten-Free Certification Program, and other professionals working in the field, we believe that there is not adequate evidence to support the claim. When added to many reports from consumers with celiac disease reacting to eating the cereal, we believe this is the safe recommendation for Canadians.”

The CCA will follow up closely with the CFIA and Health Canada to continue to monitor this decision along with other products sold in Canada to ensure access to safe foods for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities.

The CCA is currently working on a grant from Agriculture and Agrifood Canada to examine the scope of gluten contamination in oats grown in Canada, and to determine where the contamination occurs as the oats a processed (field, harvest, transport, processing). The project is scheduled to be completed in March 2018.

Celiac disease is a medical condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale, barley. In the case of wheat, gliadin has been isolated as the toxic fraction. It is the gluten in the flour that helps bread and other baked goods bind and prevents crumbling. This feature has made gluten widely used in the production of many processed and packaged foods.

Mannarich Food and Parker Lee brand fish products recalled

Recall date: February 26, 2016
Reason for recall: Allergen – Crustacean/Shellfish, Allergen – Egg, Allergen – Milk, Allergen – Soy, Allergen – Wheat
Hazard classification:  Class 1
Company / Firm: Mannarich Food
Distribution: British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Possibly National, Quebec
Extent of the distribution: Retail

Recall details

Ottawa, February 26, 2016 – Mannarich Food Inc. is recalling Mannarich Food and Parker Lee brand fish products from the marketplace because they contain crab, egg, lobster, milk, soy and/or wheat which are not declared on the label. People with an allergy to crab, egg, lobster, milk, soy or wheat should not consume and retailers, hotels, restaurants and institutions should not sell, serve or use the recalled products described below.

The following products have been sold in British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec and may have been distributed in other provinces.

These products may have been sold in bulk or in smaller packages with or without a label and may not bear the same product names as described below. Consumers who are unsure if they have purchased the affected products are advised to contact their retailer.

Recalled products

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
Mannarich Food Hot Pot Assortment – Taste of Japan 400 g All codes where crab, lobster and soy are not declared on the label 0 68636 31102 0
Mannarich Food Seafood Crispy Beancurd 4 x 3 kg All codes where egg is not declared on the label None
Parker Lee Japanese Style Udon Noodle with Seafood 470 g All codes where crab and egg are not declared on the label 0 68636 21061 3
Parker Lee Thai Style Rice Noodle with Seafood 470 g All codes where egg is not declared on the label 0 68636 21062 0
Parker Lee Portuguese Sauce Seafood Rice Bowl 375 g All codes where crab and milk are not declared on the label 0 68636 02016 8
Parker Lee Seafood a la King with Spaghetti 450 g All codes where crab, egg and wheat are not declared on the label 0 68636 20122 2

What you should do

Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

If you have an allergy to crab, egg, lobster, milk, soy or wheat, do not consume the recalled products as they may cause a serious or life-threatening reaction.

Background

This recall was triggered by CFIA test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.

Illnesses

There have been no reported reactions associated with the consumption of these products.

Customer Service Lines Provide Inconsistent Info to Celiacs

By Sue Newell
Canadian Celiac Association

Many people tell me that even though the ingredient list seems safe, they call the company anyway. Sometimes they ask if the product is produced on dedicated lines, sometimes they ask if there is gluten in the product or in the plant.

They get a variety of answers; the most common seems to be “we don’t add gluten but cannot guarantee what our suppliers do”, and this is frequently interpreted as “there is gluten in that product”, which isn’t what it means at all.

In the most interesting cases you get a completely wrong answer. Annie of Ottawa shared her experience on Facebook. She called President’s Choice about PC Sprinkle Party Cake Ice Cream and was told that there were pieces of cake in the ice cream. She was puzzled about the answer because the ingredient list did not contain any of the ingredients needed for cake (eggs and flour at a minimum). She called back later to get another service agent and got the same answer – there are pieces of pound cake in the ice cream.

Either this was a monumental labeling failure with a missing priority allergens (egg) as well as gluten sources OR the customer service message was completely wrong. Annie contacted the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and asked for an investigation.

After a few days, CFIA let her know that there were NO traces of gluten in the product. It turns out that the formula for this product just changed. Customer service had the old message, not the new one. Equally important, they had no idea that there was a change in the product.

Unfortunately, we have few ways of knowing whether the answers we get from a customer service agent are correct or not. I suspect that the intent of many of the messages to get us to hang up and not eat the product, so as to not cost the company any more money. Large companies have departments responsible for making sure their products met various government regulations, but updating customer service is usually not part of their responsibility. When that falls on a busy product manager, it isn’t always a high priority.

cfia logoThe idea of “we cannot guarantee that our incoming ingredients are not contaminated” is really a “duh” statement. The key word in the sentence is “guarantee”. The idea many gluten-free consumers take away is “it is contaminated”. Unfortunately, they then tend to share the information with others, continuing to spread the inaccurate conclusions.

If a company is able to make a gluten-free claim, it will be on the package. Expecting a customer service agent to go off-script and make a claim with legal ramifications is not realistic and it isn’t really a good use of your time or the company’s time.

Maybe it is time to either trust ingredient lists or to give up on processed food. It will definitely reduce your stress levels.

Recall: Schneider's All Beef Bologna – Undeclared Wheat

Courtesy CFIA

Schneider’s brand All Beef Bologna recalled due to undeclared milk and wheat

Schneiders All Beef BolognaAdvisory date: May 29, 2015
Reason for advisory: Allergen – Milk, Allergen – Wheat
Hazard classification: Class 2
Company / Firm: Maple Leaf Foods
Distribution: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan
Extent of the distribution: Retail
Reference number: 9862

Product

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
Schneider’s All Beef Bologna 175 g 2015 JN 15 0 62000 31690 1

Oats can now make gluten-free claim in Canada

By Sue Newell, CCA

Oat flakes on white background

Health Canada announced regulatory changes that will allow a gluten-free claim for specially produced or processed oats that are free from wheat, rye, barley, or their hybridized strains, and for foods containing these oats. Details about these changes, an updated position paper and other important information can be found on Health Canada’s Website.

The Canadian Celiac Association supports this decision to allow gluten-free claims for specially produced gluten-free oats and products containing such oats. The Canadian Celiac Association Professional Advisory Council Position Statement on Consumption of Oats by Individuals with Celiac Disease is available on www.celiac.ca.

Health Canada’s Marketing Authorization permits the gluten-free claim for oats if they meet the following criteria:

  1. The food contains no oats other than specially produced “gluten-free oats”;
  2. The finished product does not contain greater than 20 ppm of gluten from wheat, rye, barley or their hybridized strains;
  3. The food contains no intentionally added gluten from wheat, rye, barley, or their hybridized strains; and
  4. The “gluten-free oats” are clearly identified as such in all cases where ‘oats’ are referenced, including in the list of ingredients.

Manufacturers who want to make a gluten-free claim on pure oats or products made with pure oats are responsible for ensuring those oats meet the criteria outlined in the Marketing Authorization. If a product is marketed as gluten-free and contains oats that do not meet the criteria, it will be subject to enforcement actions by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Forever Health brand Imitation Ham recalled due to undeclared Wheat

imitation-hamCourtesy CFIA

Recall date: November 8, 2013
Reason for recall: Allergen – Wheat
Hazard classification: Class 1
Company / Firm: Happy Veggie World
Distribution: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec
Extent of the distribution: Retail

Ottawa, November 8, 2013 – Happy Veggie World is recalling Forever Health brand Imitation Ham products from the marketplace because they contain wheat which is not declared on the label.  People with an allergy to wheat should not consume the recalled products described below.

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
Forever Health Imitation Ham 600 g All codes 4 712263 061099
Forever Health Vegan Ham (Imitation Meat) kg All codes 4 712263 060955

Undeclared wheat in Piller's pepperoni

Courtesy CFIA

pillers pepperoniOTTAWA, October 19, 2012 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Piller’s Fine Foods are warning people with allergies to wheat and / or sensitivity to gluten not to serve or consume Piller’s brand Sub Pac Classic and Sliced Pepperoni products described below. The affected products contain wheat which is not declared on the label.

The following Piller’s brand luncheon meat products are affected by this alert.

Product Name Size UPC Best Before Date
Pepperoni Sliced 6 x 500 g 0 69401 04605 5 2012 NO01
2012 NO20
2012 NO27
2012 DE03
2012 DE05
2012 DE13
Sub Pac Classic $5 (Pepperoni, Luncheon Meat, Smoked Ham) 400 g 0 69401 03613 1 2012 OC18
2012 NO19
2012 NO20
2012 NO27
2012 DE05
Sub Pac Classic (Pepperoni, Luncheon Meat, Smoked Ham) 250 g 0 78427 03605 6 2012 SE11
2012 SE20
2012 SE26
2012 OC11
2012 OC25
2012 NO01
2012 NO12
2012 NO20
2012 NO23
2012 NO27
2012 DE07

pillers pepperoni recall

These products were distributed in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. However, they may have been distributed in other provinces.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Consumption of these products may cause a serious or life-threatening reaction in persons with allergies to wheat. Also, these products represent a health risk to gluten sensitive individuals / Celiac sufferers.

Piller’s Fine Foods, Waterloo, ON is voluntarily recalling the affected products from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

For more information, consumers and industry can call one of the following numbers:

Piller’s Fine Foods at 1-800-265-2628, weekdays between 8:30 am – 5:00 pm or
Voice mail may be left at 519-743-1412 ext. 351;

CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 / TTY 1-800-465-7735 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday).