In Canada, one in two people knows someone with a serious food allergy. In fact, over 2.6 million Canadians report having at least one food allergy themselves, and  485,000 of these Canadians are under 18 years old. As a result, proper food labelling is instrumental in helping individuals — children in particular — avoid ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction, some of which could be life-threatening.

Health Canada requires food manufacturers to clearly label products if they contain one of Canada’s priority allergens such as peanuts or milk. Parents need to be especially cognizant of food labels to ensure they make safe choices for their children. Beatrice Povolo, Director of Advocacy for Food Allergy Canada refers to these food labels as lifelines for consumers with allergies and their families, emphasizing their importance to those managing food allergies.

Nevertheless, parents are not the only ones who need to pay attention to food labels. Given that children spend most of their day in schools or childcare centres, teachers and education professionals also need to be aware of students who have food allergies. To minimize risks for these children, Povolo explains that some classrooms have implemented no sharing rules for lunches and snacks, while others have even encouraged families to send food that is fully labelled and allergy-friendly. Even if your loved ones do not live with food allergies, you can always play a part in supporting others who do by being well-informed and conscientious.

Alternative solutions

The reality is that the only true way to manage your allergies is to avoid the foods you’re allergic to. This can be especially tricky for children if they are allergic to common foods. However, there are alternative solutions for many common foods to help those with serious food allergies and in many cases these alternatives not only make life safer for those with allergies but are often more nutritious and delicious.