Breaking news on food labeling in Canada — Goliath won — for now.  The brewing industry who threw in a last minute lobby to get out of the required labeling of ingredients in their products — got their way in Canada.  Prompting disappointment in the thousands of people with food allergies and celiac disease in that country.

According to the Globe and Mail, today the Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a news conference that the new rules to make food labels easier to read  will be published today.  But any dealings with the labeling of beer “…will be dealt with once further consultations and discussions can be held.”  It has taken 10 years for the food allergen and celiac advocates to get to this point.  How long do you think the foot dragging will happen now?

The beer makers said the requirements would force smaller brewers to replace hand-painted bottles to update ingredient lists.  Plus — everyone knows what’s in beer.  Honestly this idea of special treatment when they had 10 years to be a participant in the discussion is frustrating to me (and again, I’m not even Canadian).

And it appears to also be frustrating to many of the 100+ people who had already commented to the story on the Globe and Mail’s website by 3:00 p.m. Central Time.

“Leona Aglukkaq is not a health minister. She is a puppet for big business including Big Pharma and nothing more!!”

“The draft regulations came up in 2008. Why would they keep getting years worth of printed beer bottles if they knew this were coming? Or were they betting that the government would back down before they would be portrayed as hurting small business? What’s going to happen if they have millions of dollars worth of stock in 2012? More delays?”

“I’m pretty sure beer has barley, hops and sometimes wheat, but what I’m not sure about is what else goes in the vat. Why is it that companies selling fruit-based beverages need to list their ingredients, including preservatives, on each container, and beer companies can’t even list them on the case?   And if the issue is that some companies have new painted bottles that will need revision, okay, fine, we can wait for that for awhile. In the meantime however, why don’t we make the brewers list ingredients on their web sites?”

Most comments are of that nature, but there were a handful that supported the beer industry:

“Labelling in general is good, the only problem it seems is with implementation time for specialty beers.  I’m pretty sure any celiac knows most beers are bad.. there are gluten free beers, but they are the exception and advertise as such.”

“According to the Canadian Celiac Association, 1 out of 133 Canadians suffer from this disease. That’s less than 1% of the population. For the most part do most of the rest of us really care what’s in beer? Those of us who imbibe regularly have a pretty good idea of what brand is going to cause us grief the morning after… A label listing all the ingredients would be nice but is it really going to have a major impact on consumption for the vast majority of us? Seems like a tempest in a teapot from my POV. Regardless of what’s in my favourite brand I doubt a list of ingredients is going to make me change.”

I’ll be honest I don’t necessarily disagree with the last two comments  I think a lot of gluten-free-specific people know what to look for and for them that is “gluten free beer”.  However, newly diagnosed folks would benefit greatly from this as would people with other food allergies or sensitivities.

And it is extremely annoying to me when everyone is on board and required to follow the new rules, except the beer industry who raised a stink at the last second….geez it’s like rewarding a toddler for having a temper tantrum.  For me, in part, it is the principle of the thing.

While the beer industry takes its time, all other food and beverages need to get their labels implemented on the products by August 4, 2012.

See February 4th post and January 31st post on this topic.

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3 Responses to “Beer wins! Canadian Food Allergen Labeling Law Goes on With Brewers’ Exemption”

  1. There’s a lot of information here that will be very useful. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I think in this instance that we have to focus on the cup that is half full instead of half empty. Look at all the other companies that have to abide by the new labelling rules. That’s something to celebrate! The brewing companies may have got an exception now but let’s be patient…I think it won’t be long and the pressure will force them to come around.


  3. Great point Angie. Thank you for seeing the positive in all of this!

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