Just when Health Canada has recognized mustard as Canada’s 11th priority allergen, word is that mustard flour is a bacteria killer in processed meat products. This might be good news for Canada’s beleagured processed meat industry after major recalls due to listeria over the last year that killed several people.
A recent study at the University of Manitoba and reported in Food in Canada shows that heat treated cold mustard powder used as a binder, not as a spice, in meat products such as sausage will create toxins that kill off E.coli bacteria. It’s a natural way to ensure that E.coli, a potentially life threatening bacteria when ingested, cannot contaminate our processed meats. Read more »
Time today for a little rant. What’s new? The topic is demos. You know, where ladies stand behind a table in your grocer’s aisle, complete with a hair net and gloves. They offer little samples of various food products, coupons and more. Many people love food demos and even go to Costco every Saturday to “lunch” on the samples. Companies do food demos because if consumers try the product we may like it or simply feel guilty and agree to buy an item from that kindly lady behind the table.
99% of the time I avoid food demos, whether or not my allergic child is with me. In fact, I really try not to make eye contact and have been known to avoid aisles completely if it means I can bypass a demo. When I have stopped, I’m inevitably disappointed, if not downright ticked off. Sometimes I can see right away that there are food allergens that we need to avoid in the product but other times I have heard allergen information from the presenter that’s not even close to the mark. As an example, several years ago Nestle came out with a new Real Dairy product line of ice cream. Of course, we Canadians know that Nestle has several peanut free chocolate bars on the market here so hope surged within me that I just might be able to get a delicious new ice cream that was safe for our whole family. Read more »
I spoke to the producer of a national talk show last week and part of that discussion was telling her all of the major national brands in Canada that have begun producing and labeling items as Peanut Free. She asked me to send her a couple of those products along with Nonuttin’ samples so that she could see what kind of selection is available to Canadians but not to Americans. So off to the grocery store I went.
Many items such as candies and chocolate bars were really easy with Halloween coming soon. The store had huge displays of all of the peanut free items currently being offered and I had no problem finding all sorts of goodies. I then headed to the cracker and cookie and fruit snacks aisles where I added several Dare products to my cache.
Along the way, I decided to try and get at least a few items that were both peanut free and dairy free because the producer’s child suffers from both of those allergies and I hoped to send a pleasant surprise their way. That’s when the going really got tough. I haven’t had to shop dairy free for several years since both of my girls outgrew their dairy allergies. I discovered that it hasn’t gotten any easier and with all of the peanut free items that I could find I was only able to get 1 item that didn’t have dairy or traces of dairy in it.
While I’m thankful that my own children’s allergies no longer include dairy, it seems to me that the manufacturing world’s focus on peanut free has really given dairy the short shrift. And it has somehow communicated to the world at large that only peanut allergies are life threatening and need monitoring. For those of you with dairy allergies, I know I’m preaching to the choir but this grocery trip really opened my eyes up anew.
I’ve said for years that I believe the most difficult allergens to avoid are dairy, wheat and soy. I find this holds true in my search for ingredients for Nonuttin’ products too. And despite my desire to have Nonuttin’ products soy free as well, I have discovered that even if we were to remove soy from our own facility, so many of the ingredients we source have soy cross contamination issues that I wouldn’t be comfortable labeling our products as soy free.
I’m not sure what it will take to have other major allergens come to the forefront like peanut has but I think we’ve got a long way to go.
Mustard has become Canada’s 11th priority allergen after a review by Health Canada as announced last week.
Health Canada had been reviewing several different foods including garlic and onions but only mustard made the list. This is because while mustard allergies are not exactly rampant, they are more common than you might think and the severity of the recorded reactions has prompted concern. Garlic and onions were considered but the evidence of recorded reactions shows less severity and more intolerance as opposed to an anaphylactic response.
If you’ve been following my blog, you’re aware that I had a cousin react to mustard in the spring which shocked everybody in the family except me. Given what I do, I’ve been aware for several years that Europe labels for the top 12 food allergens (plus lupin) which includes Canada’s top 10 with the addition of mustard and celery. Since November of 2008, I’ve been adding mustard, celery and lupin to the list that I send my ingredient suppliers to document. The results prompted me to add celery to the list of allergen declarations on the Nonuttin’ website.
Like prior allergen labeling laws before it, this new regulation will require food manufacturers to plainly list mustard if it is an ingredient. Currently, if you’re allergic to mustard, you must avoid any product that simply lists “spices” as a food ingredient. If you take a look at any of the products in your food cupboard, particularly savory items, you’ll find a lot of products that only indicate “spices”.
It would appear at first glance that this must be a huge relief for mustard allergy sufferers. My hope is that the amount of products they can eat will increase with better labeling. Unfortunately, as many of you with other food allergies can attest, food allergen labeling can backfire when manufacturers put all of the priority allergens on their label.
In any case, the review has prompted Health Canada to put into place review procedures for the priority allergens as the prevalence of food allergies grows and more data is documented. It’s not easy for food manufacturers but it really is necessary as we battle with increasing immune system issues.