2010-2011 Undeclared Allergens in Flavour Packets

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Executive Summary

The Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP) aims to modernize and enhance Canada's food safety system. As part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to evaluate various foods for specific hazards.

The use of flavour packets in Canada has increased because of today's busier lifestyles and the introduction of a wide variety of multi-cultural foods to the population. Flavour packets are premixed in the proper ratios for easy addition to foods.

The main objective of the undeclared allergens in flavour packets survey was:

  • To obtain baseline information regarding the presence and levels of undeclared priority allergens and gluten in flavour packets.
  • To identify potential food safety concerns relating to undeclared allergens in flavour packets.

Flavour packets are premixed packages of herbs and/or spices that when blended with other foods infuse or enhance a taste of the finished food. A total of one hundred flavour packets were sampled and analyzed for the presence of the following undeclared priority allergens: soy, egg, milk, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts and sesame, as well as for undeclared gluten. Samples were collected based on retail availability. Examples of flavour packets sampled for this survey included sauce mixes, drink mixes, seasoning mixes, soup bases and spice mixes.

Positive results were evaluated to determine if the the level of undeclared allergen represented a health concern to allergic individuals. Follow up action may involve a food safety investigation, including a health risk assessment conducted by Health Canada and a recall or one of the following: notification of manufacturer/importer and/or additional sampling. Of the 100 samples tested 25 samples were positive for one or more undeclared allergens. The most common undeclared allergen detected was soy (39%), followed by milk (24%) and gluten (21%). There were no undeclared peanuts or tree nuts found in any of the 100 samples of flavour packets analyzed.

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