Reading and understanding food labels is one of the key ways you can work to prevent reactions and stay safe.
Here is a quick guide to understanding food labels as you make choices for you and your family. For more information, please also see the links we provide at the bottom of this post.
Three Key Steps
Always Read the Label
Read food labels each and every time you buy something. Remember, the company
can change their recipe at any time.
Do The Triple Check
- Once at the store before buying it
- Once when you get home and put it away
- Again before you serve or eat the product
If you have questions on whether a product may contain your allergen, call or email the company before buying the product.
Canada’s “Priority Allergens”
Health Canada requires food manufacturers to clearly label products if the government’s “Priority Allergens” are among the ingredients. They are: peanut; tree nuts; soy; wheat; egg; milk; seafood (shellfish, fish, and crustaceans); sesame; sulphites; and mustard. By law, priority allergens are to be clearly labeled on the product. For example, milk must be labeled “milk” and not “casein”.
May Contain Statements
In Canada, companies are not required to use Precautionary Statements such as “May Contain”. These statements are used voluntarily by some companies and can be very helpful in avoiding cross contact with an allergen. Cross-contact (or cross-contamination) can happen when a small amount of a food allergen gets into another food accidentally, such as when two products are made on the same lines in the factory.
If you are unsure whether a product may contain traces of an allergen, call the company to ask before you buy it.
Reporting a Reaction
If you believe you came into contact with one of your allergens and it was not labelled on the product, contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). To find out how, visit our How to Report a Reaction Page.