Know what is in the food you buy online, including groceries, and take-out/delivery from restaurants
With the rise in food being purchased online for groceries and food delivery (e.g. take-out) throughout the pandemic, the need for clear and accurate ingredient information has never been greater.
At the start of the pandemic, we heard from many of you about challenges with purchasing food online – specifically the lack of ingredient information provided at point of sale. Currently, the Enhanced Food Allergen Labelling laws only apply to the physical package of pre-packaged foods and don’t extend to the labelling requirements for the same products sold online or to food sold online for take-out/delivery.
This means that when you buy food online (e.g., groceries, take-out, delivery), you may not be given the same level of ingredient information as you would see on the label of products you purchase in person.
This lack of transparency can lead to purchasing products or ordering food that may not be safe options for you or your family or prevent you from purchasing any food products online.
We raised this issue with Health Canada on behalf of our community and provided real life examples of the current gap in providing ingredient information for online sales. We emphasized the need for accurate and complete ingredient information for all food products, regardless of how or where they are sold, so Canadians with food allergy can make safe, informed choices.
Health Canada is now proposing new labelling guidance for the food industry for food products being sold online in Canada. This represents a significant step forward in providing you and all Canadians with food allergy greater access to online ingredient information.
Your voice is needed to help ensure these changes happen.
Here’s what you need to know:
Health Canada’s proposed guidance specifically addresses the need for clear labelling of food allergens and calls on the food industry, both food manufacturers and foodservice/restaurant operations, to provide:
- Allergen information (including “may contain” statements) for any food offered for sale online, including those packaged or prepared by the seller (for example take-out food sold by a restaurant, food sold in bulk, and food sold from a deli case). The information should be provided before the purchase is concluded and it should accompany that food upon delivery to the consumer.
- The same food information that is required to appear on any given label of food offered for sale in a physical store.
- Food information on a product information page in a manner that is clear, prominent, and legible.
Next steps: Participate in the consultation
Health Canada wants to hear from you. Let them know you support the guidance recommendations above and how they will help you and your family feel more confident when shopping for food products online.
Step 1: Read the consultation request
Read Health Canada’s “Consultation on the development of voluntary guidance for providing food information for foods sold to consumers through e-commerce”.
Step 2: Complete the Health Canada Consultation Questionnaire by July 8th, 2022
Include any of the points above in the “Here’s what you need to know” section that you would like to highlight, and let Health Canada know how important proper ingredient disclosure and allergen labelling is for those living with food allergy.
To make it easier, you can copy this paragraph:
“I am one of over 3 million Canadians impacted by food allergy and I support Health Canada’s proposed recommendations for allergen labelling for food products sold online. All Canadians have a right to know what is in the food they are buying, and it is even more important for those with food allergy as it’s a necessity to staying safe and avoiding potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.”
Within the questionnaire you can share your experience of shopping online and any issues you encountered. Be sure to include what ingredient information was missing or unclear for any products you were shopping for or ordering online and how that impacted your purchasing decisions.
Additional actions to take
We want to hear from you and share our behind-the-scenes advocacy efforts with you directly. Participate in our activities on this consultation.
Participate in our Townhall to hear directly from Food Allergy Canada on why this consultation is so important, and what is being done behind-the-scenes on your behalf with government and industry on increasing the accuracy of ingredient labelling.
We look forward to answering your questions live, and you can also submit your questions in advance upon registration.
Take our short survey to let us know what challenges you face when buying groceries or ordering from restaurants online.
Your input will help to strengthen Food Allergy Canada’s response to Health Canada’s consultation and in our ongoing conversations on accurate ingredient information with government and industry.
Let us know whenever you have a challenge accessing ingredient information. Share your stories and photos with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your stories and examples are pivotal in our efforts with government and industry.