Health Canada’s Food Directorate shared with stakeholders an update on its key accomplishments and on-going initiatives for August 2014.
Food Times, previously published on quarterly basis, will be now shared with stakeholders monthly, using a shorter, abbreviated version. This change is meant to enhance transparency and on-going stakeholder engagement by Health Canada’s Food Directorate, as a primary food standard setter in Canada.
Comments and input on this updated approach are welcome and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
During tonight’s meeting of the of the Food Allergen Community of AOAC International (International Association of Official Analytical Communities), I will attempt to provide an overview of the latest accomplishments and future directions related to capacity building initiatives associated with food allergen management and supported by the Government of Canada. I will focus on our recent efforts under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific (APEC) Food Safety Cooperation Forum and the workshop co-organised by Health Canada’s Food Directorate and FARRP last May.
An effort to further document and map capacity building needs in this area, for the region will be attempted during the upcoming China International Food Safety and Quality Conference, where we are aiming to organise a dedicated session on food allergens, on November 6th, 2014 in Shanghai.
Health Canada’s Food Directorate is proposing to update certain regulatory tolerances for arsenic and lead in a variety of beverages, including bottled water.
Arsenic and lead are present in the environment at low levels as a result of their natural occurrence and release related to human activity, including industrial activity. The levels of arsenic and lead in foods available in Canada have been stable at very low levels for many years; these trace amounts typically reflect the expected accumulation from the environment.
Health Canada proposes to reduce the tolerance for lead in fruit juice, fruit nectar, and beverages when ready-to-serve, to the level of 0.05 ppm or 0.05 milligram per Liter, 4 times lower than the current level. Health Canada also proposes that the maximum tolerance for lead in bottled water be reduced to 0.01 ppm or 0.01 milligram per Liter.
These levels were deemed to be achievable and are consistent with the tolerances established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission: the International food standard setting body.
For arsenic, the focus is on apple juice and bottled water. Apple juice is the most frequently consumed juice by young children in Canada and was therefore subject to particular focus as a potential significant source of exposure to this vulnerable group of our population. Health Canada proposes that the maximum tolerance for total arsenic be set at 0.01 ppm or 0.01 milligram per Liter for both bottled water and apple juice. Setting levels for total arsenic rather than inorganic arsenic (which is the toxic form for arsenic) allows an increased level of protection and is more easily complied with and enforceable by regulators, given the wide range of available methods to measure total arsenic in food (as opposed to inorganic arsenic, for which methods are more complex and possibly less accessible to industry).
Health Canada’s rationale for these changes as well as the consultation document are available on its Food and Nutrition Webpages.
The proposed lower tolerances are more protective of human health than those that currently exist. Lowering these tolerances aligns with Health Canada’s general commitment to reduce dietary exposure to contaminants, and lead and arsenic in particular, to levels that are as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA)
The consultation is open and comments can be sent to Health Canada’s Food Directorate, Bureau of Chemical Safety until September 1st, 2014.