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Mythbuster: Are “may contain” allergen labels mandatory in Canada?

Is it true that if there is a chance of cross-contamination of an allergen in a pre-packaged food, companies must label the product with a “may contain” warning?

 

Not currently. Allergen precautionary statements such as a “may contain” (or similar) statement on food labels are used by manufacturers and importers on a voluntary basis to alert consumers to the possible inadvertent presence of an allergen not intended to be in the product. Cross-contamination can occur during food processing and packaging in a facility that uses shared equipment, or through handling, for example.

Consumers are encouraged to call manufacturers directly to inquire about allergen labelling practices. While importers are required by law to follow Canadian labelling rules, there have been instances of product recalls due to undeclared allergens in foods. We recommend that consumers with food allergies be cautious of imported products because food labelling regulations vary by country.

For more information about “may contain” statements, please visit our food labelling information page. You can also learn more about our advocacy for improved “may contain” food labelling guidance.

Help us educate your communities and share this mythbuster with them! Stay tuned for more mythbusters to come.

Medical content reviewed by: Dr. Julia Upton, MD, FRCP(C) Clinical Immunology and Allergy

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