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2015-2016 Undeclared Milk and Gluten in Ready to Use Sauces


Targeted surveys provide information on potential food hazards that enhance the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA's) regular monitoring programs. These surveys provide data used to confirm the safety of the food supply, identify potential emerging hazards, and contribute new information and data to food categories where it may be limited or non-existent. They are used by the CFIA to focus surveillance on potential areas of highest risk. They can also help to identify any trends that are occurring and provide information about how industry complies with Canadian regulations.

Food allergies can affect people of all ages but are particularly common in children. Food allergens can represent a serious or life threatening health risk for allergic individuals. Additionally, undeclared gluten may contribute to chronic health issues for those individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Allergens and gluten can be found in food due to their presence in the raw ingredients, or they can be accidentally introduced along the food production chain due to cross contamination. Regardless of the source of the allergens, industry must ensure that the food produced is safe for human consumption, either by complying with specific Canadian regulations where applicable, or by keeping the levels as low as reasonably possible.

Pre-packaged sauces, marinades and gravies are convenience products used to infuse or enhance the taste of a finished food product. Foods sampled in this survey included any prepackaged sauces, marinades, and gravies without a milk or gluten claim on the label. The products were tested for beta-lactoglobulin and casein (the two proteins that indicate the presence of milk) and gluten. In total, 299 foods samples were collected from retail stores between May 2015 and April 2016. Only three samples were confirmed positive for casein protein.

All positive allergen results are forwarded to the CFIA's Office of Food Safety and Recall (OFSR). Within CFIA, the OFSR evaluates and determines if the level of undeclared allergen poses a health concern to allergic individuals. Two positive results obtained in this survey were determined to represent a health risk and a food recall was issued.

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