The number of Canadians with bad reactions to food is on the rise, according to the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University.
A quarter of respondents to a new study released by the lab indicated they have at least one allergy or intolerance — which translates to almost three million Canadians with an allergy and seven million with a food intolerance.
According to Dalhousie food prof Sylvain Charlebois, there’s an increased awareness surrounding food allergies, which makes accuracy in labelling food that much more challenging.
“Thirty-five per cent of all food recalls we have in Canada are related to an allergen or mislabelling,” Charlebois told 680 CJOB.
“That’s a lot of stuff going on right now in the food industry, so we’re more aware of the risks.”
Charlebois said the COVID-19 pandemic means more and more people have relied on food delivered to their homes, which in many cases is labelled with less detail than items on store shelves.
“Thinking about schools, thinking about Halloween coming up next week, and most importantly, as a result of COVID, a lot of food is delivered to people’s homes, and people will have figured not all information is with the food being delivered to people’s homes.”
The study suggests less than half of respondents believe food products in this country are properly labelled, with only 27 per cent saying restaurant menus offer up enough details about potential allergens.
“Consumers with food allergy need access to complete and accurate ingredient information, regardless of how the food is manufactured or prepared,” said Food Allergy Canada director Jennifer Gerdts.
“Having the information they need to make a safe, informed choice is critical for our community to stay safe and avoid serious allergic reactions — both for pre-packaged products and food served in restaurants.
“Knowing what’s in your food is important for all Canadians, but for those with food allergy, it’s essential.”