2012-2013 Undeclared Allergens and Gluten in Soup

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.

A wide variety of domestic and imported soups, including broths, dried, condensed and ready-to-eat soups are available on the Canadian marketplace. There have been previous incidents of undeclared allergens and gluten sources in soup products which have led to product recalls. Undeclared allergens and/or gluten may be present in a soup product due to incomplete labelling or cross contamination of an ingredient, or the final product, with an allergen and/or gluten source. This survey gathered information on the levels and prevalence of undeclared allergens and/or gluten in soup products.

The main objectives of the Undeclared Allergens and Gluten in Soup survey were:

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

A total of 499 soup products were sampled and analysed for undeclared soy, egg, milk (beta-lactoglobulin and casein), peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sesame and gluten. The majority of the samples were analyzed for more than one undeclared allergen and/or gluten. There were 3411 analyses completed on the 499 samples. Some products contained more than one undeclared allergen or gluten source, a total of 22 products contained 26 positive results. Of the 26 positive results (26/3411, 0.8%) there were: 8 milk (7 products were positive; 3 for casein, 3 for beta-lactoglobulin and 1 product tested positive for both proteins), 4 egg, 6 gluten, 1 hazelnut and 7 soy. The majority of the positive results (23/26, 88%) were from dried soups and bouillons. There were no undeclared almond, peanut or sesame found in any of the samples.

All positive results were followed up by CFIA. 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.

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