2013-2014 Undeclared Soy and Gluten in Infant Cereal

Executive Summary

Targeted surveys are used by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to focus its surveillance activities on areas of highest risk. The information gained from these surveys provides both support for the prioritization of the Agency's activities to areas of greater concern and scientific evidence to address areas of lesser concern. Originally started under the Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP), targeted surveys have been incorporated into the CFIA's regular surveillance activities as a valuable tool for generating essential information on certain hazards in foods, identifying/characterizing new and emerging hazards, informing trend analysis, prompting/refining human health risk assessments, assessing compliance with Canadian regulations, highlighting potential contamination issues, and promoting compliance.

The main objectives of this targeted survey were to obtain baseline information regarding the presence and levels of undeclared soy and gluten in prepackaged infant cereals, and to identify potential food safety concerns related to undeclared soy and gluten for the allergic and sensitive population.

A wide variety of prepackaged infant cereals are available on the Canadian market. In some cases, undeclared soy and gluten sources may be present in these products due to incomplete labelling or cross-contamination prior to or during manufacture of the final product, which may indicate a breakdown in good manufacturing practices or allergen controls. The presence of an undeclared allergen in a food may represent a serious or life-threatening health risk for allergic or sensitive individuals. In addition, undeclared gluten may contribute to chronic health issues for those individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

For this survey, 196 samples of prepackaged infant cereal were collected at retail. Of these, 98 samples were analyzed for undeclared soy and 98 samples for undeclared gluten. Samples targeted in this survey were prepackaged infant cereal (including single and mixed grain as well as flavoured infant cereals).

None of the 196 samples analyzed for soy or gluten were positive. Follow-up actions were not deemed necessary given that none of the samples were positive for soy or gluten. The CFIA will continue its surveillance activities and inform the Canadian public and other stakeholders of its findings.

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