Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

October 24, 2006 10:02 ET

CFIA: Notice to Food Editors

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 24, 2006) - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is issuing a fact sheet entitled "Food Safety Tips for Halloween", informing Canadians on how to ensure their Halloween is a safe one. While food safety is important all the time, this information serves as a reminder to examine Halloween treats before eating them. The CFIA is also issuing an allergen fact sheet on peanuts to remind consumers to be aware of the potential for food allergies in Halloween treats and the importance of reading labels and ingredient lists.

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

For more information, or to speak with a food safety spokesperson, you can contact our Media Relations office at (613) 228-6682.

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

Fact Sheet

FOOD SAFETY TIPS FOR HALLOWEEN

Halloween is a time of fun for children. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is providing a few simple tips to parents to ensure that their children's holiday is a safe one.

TIPS FOR PARENTS

- Children shouldn't snack while they're out trick-or-treating before parents have a chance to inspect the goodies. To help prevent children from munching, give them a snack or light meal before they go--don't send them out on an empty stomach.

- Tell children not to accept--and, especially, not to eat--anything that isn't commercially wrapped.

- When children bring their treats home, discard any homemade candy or baked goods. Parents of young children should also remove any choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.

- Wash all fresh fruit thoroughly, inspect it for holes, including small punctures, and cut it open before allowing children to eat it. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out.

- Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discolouration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.

- Some Halloween treats may trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. Consider handing out peanut-free treats. For more information, please visit CFIA's Web site at the following address: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/labeti/allerg/allerge.shtml

- Keep an eye out for konjac mini-cup jelly products which have been known to pose a choking hazard in the past as they may become lodged in the throat due to their consistency. While the original mini-cup jellies with konjac (also conjac, konuyaku or glucomannan) should have been removed from the market, it is possible that some may have been brought into the country by travellers from countries where the original product may still be for sale. Other similar products now available in Canada have been reformulated into a softer consistency.

- If juice or cider is served to children at Halloween parties, make sure it is pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy harmful bacteria. For more information, please visit CFIA's Web site at: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/foodfacts/juicee.shtml.

For more information about street-proofing for trick-or-treaters, visit the following Web site:

- http://blockparent.ca/english/kids.htmlHealth Canada - Have a Safe and Spooky Halloween - http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/securit/sports/hal/index_e.html

For information on receiving recalls by electronic mail, or for other food safety facts, visit the CFIA Web site at www.inspection.gc.ca.

Fact Sheet

Peanuts - One of the nine most common food allergens

Allergic reactions

Anaphylactic reactions are severe allergic 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 dangerous symptoms include breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure or shock, which may result in loss of consciousness and even death. Severe allergic reactions can occur quickly and without warning. 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

- Anxiousness, 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 food allergy reactions treated?

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

Frequently asked questions about peanut allergies

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

Avoid all food and products that contain peanut and peanut derivatives, including any product whose ingredient list warns it "may contain" peanut.

Can a peanut allergy be outgrown?

It was once thought that peanut allergies were lifelong. However, recent studies show some children may outgrow their peanut allergy. Consult your allergist before reintroducing peanut products.

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

Always read the ingredient list carefully. Peanut and peanut derivatives can often be present under different names, e.g., arachis oil. Do not forget that cross-contamination, e.g., using the same knife that was just used to spread peanut butter, can also be a potential source of the allergen.

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

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

Avoiding peanut and peanut derivatives

Make sure you read product labels carefully to avoid products that contain peanut and peanut derivatives. Always ask questions about food preparation, ingredients and the possibility of cross-contamination when eating out and buying food from retail food outlets, e.g., in-store bakeries, shopping centre food outlets. 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 peanuts

Arachis oil
Beer Nuts
Cacahouete/cacahouette/cacahuete
Goober nuts, goober peas
Ground nuts
Mandelonas, Nu-Nuts™
Nut meats
Valencias

Possible sources of peanuts

Almond & hazelnut paste, icing, glazes, marzipan, nougat
Artificial nuts, e.g., peanuts that have been altered to look and
taste like almonds, pecans and walnuts
Baked goods, e.g., cakes, cookies, doughnuts, pastries
Cereals
Chili
Cross-contamination, e.g., containers, food in deep fryers, utensils
Desserts, e.g., frozen desserts, frozen yogurts, ice cream, sundae
toppings
Dried salad dressing, soup mix
Ethnic foods (including sauces and soups), e.g., curries, egg rolls,
satays
Fried foods
Gravy
Hydrolyzed plant protein/vegetable protein (source may be peanut)
Peanut oil
Snack foods, e.g., candy, chocolate, dried fruits, energy/granola
bars, mixed nuts, popcorn, potato chips, trail mixes
Vegetarian meat substitutes

Non-food sources of peanuts

Ant baits, bird feed, mouse traps, pet food
Cosmetics, sun screens
Craft materials
Medications, vitamins
Mushroom growing medium
Stuffing in toys


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 "Allergy Alerts and Food Recalls" subscription service available at www.inspection.gc.ca. When you sign up you will automatically receive food recall public warnings.

Before eating

Allergists recommend that if you do not have your EpiPen® with you, that you not eat. If an ingredient list says a product "may contain" or "does contain" peanut or peanut derivatives, do not eat. 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. 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 most pre-packaged foods carry a label and that their ingredients appear in a list in decreasing order of proportion. However, they 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 requirements for priority allergens, gluten sources and sulphite in pre-packaged foods sold in Canada. These regulations would require that the most common food and food ingredients that cause life-threatening or severe allergic reactions are always identified by their common names that consumers can easily recognize on food labels.

Where can I get more information?

For more information on food allergies and to subscribe to the free "Allergy Alerts and Food Recalls" e-mail subscription service, contact the CFIA at www.inspection.gc.ca or 1-800-442-2342 (8:00 am to 4:00 pm local time - Monday to Friday).

Below are some of the organizations that can provide additional allergy information:



Allergy/Asthma Information Association www.aaia.ca (English only)

Anaphylaxis Canada www.anaphylaxis.ca (English only)

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 the Allergy/Asthma Information Association, Anaphylaxis Canada, Association Quebecoise Des Allergies Alimentaires, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and Health Canada.

Contact Information

  • CFIA
    Media Relations
    613-228-6682
    or
    Government of Canada programs and services
    1-800-O-Canada
    (1-800-622-6232)
    TTY 1-800-465-7735