Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

March 07, 2007 11:31 ET

Canadian Food Inspection Agency: Notice to Food Editors

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - March 7, 2007) - As part of an ongoing effort to increase consumer awareness about common food allergens, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is distributing the attached allergen fact sheets - Sesame Seeds and Wheat. The information highlights the symptoms of an allergic reaction and addresses key information about the specific allergens.

The CFIA is also distributing Kitchen Food Safety Tips. These tips are designed to help consumers avoid foodborne illnesses.

You can view these fact sheets, along with additional food safety information, on the CFIA Web site at www.inspection.gc.ca.

Wheat - One of the nine most common food allergens

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions are severe adverse reactions that occur when the body's immune system overreacts to a particular allergen. These reactions may be caused by food, insect stings, latex, medications and other substances. In Canada, the nine priority food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, milk, eggs, seafood (fish, crustaceans and shellfish), soy, wheat and sulphites (a food additive).

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?

When someone comes in contact with an allergen, the symptoms of a reaction may develop quickly and rapidly progress from mild to severe. The most severe form of an allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. Symptoms can include breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure or shock, which may result in loss of consciousness and even death. A person experiencing an allergic reaction may have any of the following symptoms:



- Flushed face, hives or a rash, red and itchy skin
- Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, throat and tongue
- Trouble breathing, speaking or swallowing
- Anxiety, distress, faintness, paleness, sense of doom, weakness
- Cramps, diarrhea, vomiting
- A drop in blood pressure, rapid heart beat, loss of consciousness


How are food allergies and severe allergic reactions treated?

Currently there is no cure for food allergies. The only option is complete avoidance of the specific allergen. Appropriate emergency treatment for anaphylaxis (a severe food allergy reaction) includes an injection of adrenaline, which is available in an auto-injector device. Adrenaline must be administered as soon as symptoms of a severe allergic reaction appear. The injection must be followed by further treatment and observation in a hospital emergency room. If your allergist has diagnosed you with a food allergy and prescribed adrenaline, carry it with you all the time and know how to use it. Follow your allergist's advice on how to use an auto-injector device.

Frequently asked questions about wheat allergies

I have a wheat allergy. How can I avoid a wheat-related reaction?

Avoid all food and products that contain wheat and wheat derivatives. These include any product whose ingredient list warns it "may contain" or "may contain traces of" wheat.

What is the difference between a wheat allergy and celiac disease?

Wheat allergy and celiac disease are two different conditions. When someone has a wheat allergy his/her immune system has an abnormal reaction to proteins from wheat, with symptoms similar to that of other allergic food reactions. When a person with celiac disease eats food containing the protein gluten (found in wheat and some other grains) it damages the lining of the small intestine, which stops the body from absorbing nutrients. This can lead to diarrhea, weight loss and eventually malnutrition. If you are unsure whether you have a wheat allergy or celiac disease, consult an allergist or a physician.

How can I determine if a product contains wheat or wheat derivatives?

Always read the ingredient list carefully. Wheat and wheat derivatives can often be present under different names, e.g., semolina. For other common ingredient label names, refer to the list below.

What do I do if I am not sure whether a product contains wheat or wheat derivatives?

If you have a wheat allergy, do not eat or use the product. Get ingredient information from the manufacturer.

Does product size affect the likelihood of an allergic reaction?

It does not affect the likelihood of a reaction; however, the same brand of product may be safe to consume for one product size but not another. This is because product formulation may vary between different product sizes of the same product.

Watch out for allergen cross contamination!

Cross contamination is the transfer of an ingredient (food allergen) to a product that does not normally have that ingredient in it. Through cross contamination, a food that should not contain the allergen could become dangerous to eat for those who are allergic.



Cross contamination can happen:

- during food manufacturing through shared production and
packaging equipment;
- at retail through shared equipment, e.g., cheese and deli meats
sliced on the same slicer; and through bulk display of food
products, e.g., bins of baked goods, bulk nuts; and
- during food preparation at home or in restaurants through
equipment, utensils and hands.


Avoiding wheat and wheat derivatives

Make sure you read product labels carefully to avoid products that contain wheat and wheat derivatives. Avoid food and products that do not have an ingredient list and read labels every time you shop. Manufacturers may occasionally change their recipes or use different ingredients for varieties of the same brand. Refer to the following list before shopping:



Other names for wheat
Atta
Bulgur
Couscous
Durum
Einkorn
Emmer
Enriched/white/whole wheat flour
Farina
Gluten
Graham flour, high gluten/protein flour
Kamut
Seitan
Semolina
Spelt (dinkel, farro)
Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
Triticum aestivum
Wheat bran/flour/germ/starch

Possible sources of wheat
Note: Avoid all food and products that are made from wheat and/or
contain wheat in the ingredient list including baked goods, baking
mixes, breads, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, battered/fried
foods, bread crumbs, cereals, crackers, croutons, creamed (thickened)
soups, gravy mixes and pasta.

Baking powder, flour
Beer
Coffee substitutes made from cereal
Chicken and beef broth (canned/cubed)
Falafel
Gelatinized starch, modified starch, modified food starch
Host (communion/altar bread/wafers)
Hydrolyzed plant protein
Ice cream
Imitation bacon
Meat, fish and poultry binders and fillers, e.g., deli meats, hot
dogs, surimi (used to make imitation crab/lobster meat)
Pie fillings, puddings
Prepared ketchup, mustard
Salad dressings
Sauces, e.g., chutney, soy sauce, tamari sauce
Seasonings
Snack foods, e.g., pretzels, candy, chocolate bars

Non-food sources of wheat
Cosmetics, hair care products
Medications, vitamins
Modeling compound e.g., PLAY-DOH(C)
Pet food
Wreath decorations


Note: These lists are not complete and may change. Food and food products purchased from other countries, through mail-order or the Internet, are not always produced using the same manufacturing and labelling standards as in Canada. For example, some gluten-free products from Europe may contain wheat starch.

What can I do?

Be informed

See an allergist and educate yourself about food allergies. Contact your local allergy association for further information.

If you or anyone you know has food allergies or would like to receive information about food being recalled, sign up for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) free e-mail "Food Recalls and Allergy Alerts" notification service available at www.inspection.gc.ca/english/tools/listserv/listsube.shtml?foodrecalls_rappelsaliments. When you sign up you will automatically receive food recall public warnings.

Before eating

Allergists recommend that if you do not have your auto-injector device with you, that you do not eat. If an ingredient list says a product "may contain" or "does contain" wheat or wheat derivatives, do not eat it. If you do not recognize an ingredient or there is no ingredient list available, avoid the product.

What is the Government of Canada doing about food allergens?

The Government of Canada is committed to providing safe food to all Canadians. The CFIA and Health Canada work closely with municipal, provincial and territorial partners and industry to meet this goal.

The CFIA enforces Canada's labelling laws and works with associations, distributors, food manufacturers and importers to ensure complete and appropriate labelling of all foods. The CFIA recommends that food companies establish effective allergen controls to minimize the potential for allergic reactions. The CFIA has developed guidelines and tools to aid them in developing these controls. When the CFIA becomes aware of a potential serious hazard associated with a food, such as undeclared allergens, the food product is recalled from the marketplace and a public warning is issued.

The Food and Drug Regulations require that pre-packaged food be labelled and that their ingredients appear in a list in decreasing order of proportion. However, these regulations do not currently require components (e.g., ingredients of ingredients) of certain foods and products, such as flavouring, seasoning, spices and vinegar, to be listed on food labels.

Health Canada has worked with the medical community, consumer associations, and the food industry to enhance labelling regulations for priority allergens, gluten sources and sulphites in pre-packaged food sold in Canada. Health Canada is proposing to amend the Food and Drug Regulations to require that the most common food and food ingredients that cause life-threatening or severe allergic reactions are always identified by their common names allowing consumers to easily recognize them.



Where can I get more information?

For more information on:
- food allergies;
- ordering free copies of this pamphlet; and
- subscribing to the free "Food Recalls and Allergy Alerts" e-mail
notification service, visit the CFIA Website at
www.inspection.gc.ca or call 1 800 442-2342/TTY 1 800 465-7735
(8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday).

Below are some organizations that can provide additional allergy
information:

Allergy/Asthma Information Association www.aaia.ca
Anaphylaxis Canada www.anaphylaxis.ca
Association quebecoise des allergies alimentaires www.aqaa.qc.ca
(French only)
Canadian Celiac Association www.celiac.ca
Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
www.csaci.medical.org (English only)
Health Canada www.hc-sc.gc.ca


Developed in consultation with Allergy/Asthma Information Association, Anaphylaxis Canada, Association quebecoise des allergies alimentaires, Canadian Celiac Association, Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and Health Canada.

Sesame seeds - One of the nine most common food allergens

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions are severe adverse reactions that occur when the body's immune system overreacts to a particular allergen. These reactions may be caused by food, insect stings, latex, medications and other substances. In Canada, the nine priority food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, milk, eggs, seafood (fish, crustaceans and shellfish), soy, wheat and sulphites (a food additive).

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?

When someone comes in contact with an allergen, the symptoms of a reaction may develop quickly and rapidly progress from mild to severe. The most severe form of an allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. Symptoms can include breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure or shock, which may result in loss of consciousness and even death. A person experiencing an allergic reaction may have any of the following symptoms:



- Flushed face, hives or a rash, red and itchy skin
- Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, throat and tongue
- Trouble breathing, speaking or swallowing
- Anxiety, distress, faintness, paleness, sense of doom, weakness
- Cramps, diarrhea, vomiting
- A drop in blood pressure, rapid heart beat, loss of consciousness


How are food allergies and severe allergic reactions treated?
Currently there is no cure for food allergies. The only option is complete avoidance of the specific allergen. Appropriate emergency treatment for anaphylaxis (a severe food allergy reaction) includes an injection of adrenaline, which is available in an auto-injector device. Adrenaline must be administered as soon as symptoms of a severe allergic reaction appear. The injection must be followed by further treatment and observation in a hospital emergency room. If your allergist has diagnosed you with a food allergy and prescribed adrenaline, carry it with you all the time and know how to use it. Follow your allergist's advice on how to use an auto-injector device.

Frequently asked questions about sesame seed allergies

I have a sesame seed allergy. How can I avoid a sesame seed-related reaction?

Avoid all food and products that contain sesame seeds and sesame derivatives. These include any product whose ingredient list warns it "may contain" or "may contain traces of" sesame.

How can I determine if a product contains sesame seeds or sesame derivatives?

Always read the ingredient list carefully. Sesame seeds and sesame derivatives can often be present under different names, e.g., tahini. For other common ingredient label names, refer to the list below.

What do I do if I am not sure whether a product contains sesame seeds or sesame derivatives?

If you have a sesame seed allergy, do not eat or use the product. Get ingredient information from the manufacturer.

Does product size affect the likelihood of an allergic reaction?

It does not affect the likelihood of a reaction; however, the same brand of product may be safe to consume for one product size but not another. This is because product formulation may vary between different product sizes of the same product.

Watch out for allergen cross contamination!

Cross contamination is the transfer of an ingredient (food allergen) to a product that does not normally have that ingredient in it. Through cross contamination, a food that should not contain the allergen could become dangerous to eat for those who are allergic.



Cross contamination can happen:

- during food manufacturing through shared production and packaging
equipment;
- at retail through shared equipment, e.g., cheese and deli meats
sliced on the same slicer; and through bulk display of food
products, e.g., bins of baked goods, bulk nuts; and
- during food preparation at home or in restaurants through
equipment, utensils and hands.

Avoiding sesame seeds and sesame derivatives

Make sure you read product labels carefully to avoid products that
contain sesame seeds and sesame derivatives. Avoid food and products
that do not have an ingredient list and read labels every time you
shop. Manufacturers may occasionally change their recipes or use
different ingredients for varieties of the same brand. Refer to the
following list before shopping:

Other names for sesame seeds
Benne/benne seed/benniseed
Gingelly/gingelly oil
Seeds
Sesamol/sesamolina
Sesamum indicum
Sim sim
Tahina
Tahini
Til
Vegetable oil

Possible sources of sesame seeds
Aqua Libra® (herbal drink)
Baked goods, e.g., breads, cookies, pastries, bagels, buns
Bread crumbs, bread sticks, cereals, crackers, melba toast, muesli
Dips, pates, spreads, e.g., hummus, chutney
Dressings, gravies, marinades, salads, sauces, soups
Ethnic foods, e.g., flavoured rice, noodles, shish kebabs, stews,
stir fry
Flavour(ing)
Herbs, seasoning, spice
Margarine
Processed meats, sausages
Risotto (rice dish)
Sesame oil, sesame salt (gomasio)
Snack foods, e.g., bagel/pita chips, candy, granola bars, halvah,
pretzels, rice cakes, sesame snap bars
Tahini
Tempeh
Vegetarian burgers

Non-food sources of sesame seeds
Adhesive bandages
Cosmetics, hair care products, perfumes, soaps, sun screens
Drugs
Fungicides, insecticides
Lubricants, ointments, topical oils
Pet food


Note: These lists are not complete and may change. Food and food products purchased from other countries, through mail-order or the Internet, are not always produced using the same manufacturing and labelling standards as in Canada.

What can I do?

Be informed

See an allergist and educate yourself about food allergies. Contact your local allergy association for further information.

If you or anyone you know has food allergies or would like to receive information about food being recalled, sign up for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) free e-mail "Food Recalls and Allergy Alerts" notification service available at www.inspection.gc.ca/english/tools/listserv/listsube.shtml?foodrecalls_rappelsaliments. When you sign up you will automatically receive food recall public warnings.

Before eating

Allergists recommend that if you do not have your auto-injector device with you that you do not eat. If an ingredient list says a product "may contain" or "does contain" sesame or sesame derivatives, do not eat it. If you do not recognize an ingredient or there is no ingredient list available, avoid the product.

What is the Government of Canada doing about food allergens?

The Government of Canada is committed to providing safe food to all Canadians. The CFIA and Health Canada work closely with municipal, provincial and territorial partners and industry to meet this goal.

The CFIA enforces Canada's labelling laws and works with associations, distributors, food manufacturers and importers to ensure complete and appropriate labelling of all foods. The CFIA recommends that food companies establish effective allergen controls to minimize the potential for allergic reactions. The CFIA has developed guidelines and tools to aid them in developing these controls. When the CFIA becomes aware of a potential serious hazard associated with a food, such as undeclared allergens, the food product is recalled from the marketplace and a public warning is issued.

The Food and Drug Regulations require that pre-packaged food be labelled and that their ingredients appear in a list in decreasing order of proportion. However, these regulations do not currently require components (e.g., ingredients of ingredients) of certain foods and products, such as flavouring, seasoning, spices and vinegar, to be listed on food labels.

Health Canada has worked with the medical community, consumer associations, and the food industry to enhance labelling regulations for priority allergens, gluten sources and sulphites in pre-packaged food sold in Canada. Health Canada is proposing to amend the Food and Drug Regulations to require that the most common food and food ingredients that cause life-threatening or severe allergic reactions are always identified by their common names allowing consumers to easily recognize them.



Where can I get more information?
For more information on:
- food allergies;
- ordering free copies of this pamphlet; and
- subscribing to the free "Food Recalls and Allergy Alerts" e-mail
notification service, visit the CFIA Website at
www.inspection.gc.ca or call 1 800 442-2342/TTY 1 800 465-7735
(8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday).

Below are some organizations that can provide additional allergy
information:

Allergy/Asthma Information Association www.aaia.ca
Anaphylaxis Canada www.anaphylaxis.ca
Association quebecoise des allergies alimentaires www.aqaa.qc.ca
(French only)
Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
www.csaci.medical.org (English only)
Health Canada www.hc-sc.gc.ca


Developed in consultation with Allergy/Asthma Information Association, Anaphylaxis Canada, Association quebecoise des allergies alimentaires, Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and Health Canada.

Kitchen Food Safety Tips

Preventing foodborne illness

How safe is your kitchen?

Did you know that most foodborne illness results from poor food handling at home? Your kitchen could be a high risk environment. Bacteria can thrive in food that is improperly stored or handled. Reduce the risks by following these tips from Canada's food safety experts. Play it "food safe" in your kitchen!

Get off to a CLEAN start!

- Handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of foodborne illness. Do you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food? Wash again when you switch from one food to another.

- Are your countertops and utensils clean and sanitized? Sanitizing reduces bacteria and can prevent foodborne illness.

- It's important to thoroughly clean everything that comes in contact with your hands or your food! Don't forget about kitchen cloths . . . faucet handles . . . sink drains . . . garbage disposals . . . can opener blades . . . refrigerator handles . . . small appliances . . . utensils, and so on.

BLEACH SANITIZER

- Combine 5 mL (1 tsp) of bleach with 750 mL (3 cups) of water in a labelled spray bottle.

- After cleaning, spray sanitizer on the surface/utensil and let stand briefly.

- Rinse with lots of clean water, and air dry (or use clean towels).

Eight quick tips for the kitchen (at home, work, school, etc.)

1. Keep separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and seafood and a different one for ready-to-eat and cooked foods. Clean and sanitize cutting boards after each use. Plastic cutting boards can be easily cleaned in the dishwasher.

2. Wash the lids of canned foods just before opening them to prevent dirt from getting into the food. Clean the can opener's blade after every use.

3. Take small appliances apart (food processors, meat grinders and blenders) right after you use them, and clean and sanitize them thoroughly.

4. Air dry dishes and utensils if you can, or dry them with clean kitchen towels. Wash and sanitize towels, sponges and cloths often to prevent bacteria from growing.

5. Clean the pantry regularly, keeping food off the floor. Store food in sealed containers.

6. Thoroughly wash and sanitize containers and utensils that were in contact with raw food before you reuse them.

7. If you have an infection or cut on your hand, cover it with a bandage and then wear disposable gloves when preparing food. But remember: gloves pick up bacteria, too. Change gloves frequently and wash gloved hands as often as bare hands.

8. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of your food. See table.

Cold Facts

Fridge and Freezer Checklist

Refrigeration slows down most bacterial growth while freezing can stop the growth of most bacteria. (But remember: refrigeration and freezing won't kill bacteria. Only proper cooking will do that!)

Don't let bacteria get a foothold! After you shop, immediately put away food that needs to be refrigerated or frozen.

Check the temperature of your fridge and freezer. Are they cold enough?

Set refrigerators at or below 4 degreesC (40 degreesF). Use a refrigerator thermometer to check the temperature.

Keep freezers at or below -18 degreesC (0 degreesF). Use a freezer thermometer to check the temperature.

Don't overload your fridge and freezer. Cool air must circulate freely to keep food properly chilled.

Clean the refrigerator and freezer regularly.

Bacteria can be carried in raw meat juices. Place raw meat, poultry and seafood in containers on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Use containers that are large enough to prevent raw juices from dripping onto or touching other food.

Foodsafe tip: Freezing will NOT kill all bacteria that might have been in the food before it was frozen. Only cooking your food to a safe internal temperature will kill harmful bacteria.



---------------------------------------------------------------------
When is my food ready to eat?
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Food Temperature
---------------------------------------------------------------------
fully cooked and ready-to-eat
meats (e.g. ham, roast) You can eat it cold
or you can heat it.
---------------------------------------------------------------------
beef and veal steaks and roasts 63 degreesC (145 degreesF)
medium-rare
71 degreesC (160 degreesF)
medium
77 degreesC (170 degreesF)
well done
---------------------------------------------------------------------
pork chops, ribs, roasts; ground beef,
ground pork and ground veal,
including sausages made with
ground beef/pork/veal 71 degreesC (160 degreesF)
---------------------------------------------------------------------
stuffing and casseroles, hot dogs,
leftovers, egg dishes;
ground chicken and ground turkey,
including sausages made with ground
chicken/turkey 74 degreesC (165 degreesF)
---------------------------------------------------------------------
chicken and turkey breasts, legs,
thighs and wings 74 degreesC (165 degreesF)
---------------------------------------------------------------------
chicken and turkey, whole bird 85 degreesC (185 degreesF)
---------------------------------------------------------------------


Safeguarding Canada's Food Supply

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is the Government of Canada's science-based regulator for animal health, plant protection and, in partnership with Health Canada, food safety.

For more information on food safety or to order free copies of this brochure, visit the CFIA website at www.inspection.gc.ca or call 1 800 442-2342/TTY 1 800 465-7735 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday to Friday). You can also find food safety information on the Health Canada and Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education websites respectively at www.hc-sc.gc.ca and www.canfightbac.org

Cat. no.: A104-11/2005E

ISBN: 0-662-41097-1

P0018E-05/07

Thanks for helping us get these important food safety messages to consumers.

Contact Information

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    Media Relations office
    613-228-6682