COVID-19 Resource Hub
Updated: April 27, 2021
CCA is pleased to offer a growing list of resources and information as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the Canadian gluten-free community.
Celiac and Coronavirus
Patients with only celiac are not immuno-compromised, unless they taking medications for other medical conditions which are immuno-suppressive. Like everyone, they should exercise careful infection control practices, including washing hands with soap and water frequently, and avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth. Patients with other co-morbidities such as diabetes may be at higher risk of severe infection and should take additional precautions.
What is CCA doing for the gluten-free community during this outbreak?
While our small staff team and volunteers are working at home, we haven’t stopped working for you!
- Supporting people food insecure through “Save For Me Gluten Free’ donation program. Click here to learn more or how to donate.
- Connecting with the food industry and Health Canada to monitor the gluten-free food supply
- Monitoring Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) channels and updates on food safety and recall notices
- Linking gluten-free food producers that have food donations to services that will ensure GF food gets to those who need it.
- Offering Peer Support for those individuals who need to talk to individuals, are feeling anxious or need help navigating their disease under restricted movement and quarantine
- Supporting individuals on our moderated Facebook Group
- Sharing tips and resources through our social channels
- Providing updates and news, when required, to the GF community. To receive our updates click here to sign up.
- Home Delivery – For those who are unable to leave their homes, we have provided a list of companies that will deliver to you. This is a complimentary list provided during peak waves when movement has been restricted by various health agencies. Click here.
Professional Advisory Council (PAC) statement on COVID 19 Vaccination
A vaccine has recently been approved in Canada for COVID-19 and we anticipate more vaccines will be available in the future. Our celiac community is asking for guidance of vaccination for COVID-19. At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a concern that people with celiac disease might be at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and had severe outcomes from the infection, given prior studies suggesting increased risks from pneumonia and viral infections. Thus far, we have learned from an international large study1 and celiac registry2 that individuals with celiac disease are not more likely to contract COVID-19 or to have adverse outcomes from COVID-19 infection compared to the non-celiac population. However, we have seen the devastating effects of COVID-19 in the Canadian and worldwide population, and therefore, mass vaccination is crucial to provide immunity against this virus. We recommend that people with celiac disease receive the COVID-19 vaccine approved according to their provincially determined prioritization schedules. Having a diagnosis of celiac disease should not affect the efficacy of the vaccine and should not be associated with any added adverse outcome from vaccination. It is important to clarify that celiac disease is not considered an allergy, and therefore, there is no anticipated need to take any additional precaution when proceeding with vaccination. The CCA like many other celiac societies and research groups has stated that this vaccine is likely safe for most patients who have celiac disease and have no immune compromise. A discussion with your health provider to consider your individual health situation is recommended.
1- ZhenJ et al, CGH 2020
2- International ISECURE celiac registry: https://covidceliac.org/home
Food Labelling for Some Barley Based Ingredients
Updated September 2020 –
These measures below have are limited “specifically” to food service products manufactured between April 6 and December 31, 2020 and pre-packaged meats between June 15 and December 31, 2020.
It is expected that as the US opens up its economy the products destined for sale in the US will be sold in the US this issue will be resolved. The CFIA has instructed sellers to provide the missing information with overlays, leaflets, signage at point of sale or website.
Please see the notice below from Health Canada: June 1, 2020
On April 6, 2020, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced steps that it was taking to address potential disruption in Canada’s food supply and to support the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, including temporarily suspending enforcement of certain food labelling requirements.
On this date, the Agency posted a notice to industry for labelling of foodservice products for sale at retail. Currently, the CFIA’s action allows products made in Canada that were originally destined for foodservice use in the U.S. to be sold at retail in Canada, under certain conditions.
We heard your (CCA and Coelique Quebec) concerns that ingredients such as malt flavour or extract and yeast extract do not have to clearly identify that they contain barley in the US, since the US does not have the same enhanced labelling regulations for gluten sources that Canada does. We recognize that consumers with celiac disease rely on food labelling and have come to expect that foods available for sale in Canada always declare the presence of barley and other gluten sources on their label. We have worked with the CFIA to address your concern and have determined that the requirements for gluten sources to be clearly identified on food labels should still apply to any foods with US labelling sold in Canada, similar to the way food allergen labelling requirements do, because of their health and safety impact for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
This means that any foods containing ingredients like malt flavour or extract or yeast extract should indicate the presence of barley as part of the product information available to consumers. While declaration of Canada’s priority allergens and gluten sources will continue to be required, there is still a potential risk that some products originally labelled for the US market might not identify barley as required. As a precautionary measure Health Canada is preparing an advisory that will be posted on the Health Canada website reminding consumers with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity to read the list of ingredients carefully and to watch for ingredients like malt flavour or extract or yeast extract during the pandemic period.
Note that gluten free labelling requirements are almost identical in Canada and the U.S., which means that any foods represented as “gluten free” have to meet strict criteria and cannot contain gluten above 20 parts per million.
Tips on how to identify products:
- Larger or over-sized packaged food (meant for food-service venues such as restaurants)
- English only label
- Over-label, sticker on original package label
Resources for Canadians: Health Canada is offering the following online resources to help keep Canadians healthy during COVID-19. Please note that some of the lists of food items are NOT applicable to the gluten-free diet.
- Healthy eating during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Your eating habits during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Meal planning during the COVID-19 pandemic
CCA joins charity coalition in response to emergency
CCA has joined a Canadian coalition of over 200 charities that face risks of closures, reductions during COVID-19 global crises. Click here.
Health and Mental Health Links (updated June 29)
- Health Canada has information on the virus. Click the link to learn more.
- Centre for Disease Control – Click here
- Stronger Minds: English / French
- This is a free digital program that provides guidance through expert Q&A videos, quick reads, and resilience-building activities.
- Wellness Together Canada
- This online platform connects Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls.
- This is a guided self-help program for adults and youth aged 15 and over using workbooks with online videos and phone coaching support.
- Canadian Psychological Association (CPA)
- Members of the CPA are providing front-line health service providers with psychological services at no charge.
- Canadian Mental Health Association – “COVID-19 and Mental Health”
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – “Resources for Health Care Workers”
- Mental Health Commission of Canada – “Resource Hub: Mental health and wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic”
Food Banks and Gluten Free
Food banks and community agencies looking to provide gluten-free food are encouraged to check out our new resources here.
CCA and Promise Gluten Free have announced a major donation to Food Banks Canada and Second Harvest. (May 15, 2020) Learn more.
Are you food insecure?
During the outbreak, individuals may face job loss or at increased risk and need to access a local food bank or community service. Click here for tips on navigating food banks and community services
To learn more, listen to Jessica Danford food advocate and CCA National Board Director along with Melissa Secord, CCA Executive Director on Sue Jennett’s A Canadian Celiac podcast. Click here.
Food Supply – Major grocery retailers
CCA has begun to reach out to major grocery retailers across Canada.
Tip! It is important that individuals speak with their local store or department managers to request items that are out of stock or that you would like to see in store.
As of April 2, 2020-
“As far as PCGF products and their in stock position, we are currently not hearing about any major issues with our products. The bakery items are not seeing any supply chain issues at this time. For the dry grocery and frozen items, we may possibly see a risk of intermittent supply as the vendors are catching up to the high demand that has been created by pantry and freezer loading. Our supplier base is working exhaustively to keep product in stock.” – Loblaw Companies
“…we do not have anything to report about shortages or delays with these products. We’re receiving regular shipments of supplies to our stores, and our teams are working around the clock to keep our shelves filled. However, each store place their orders based on local customer demand, so product availability do vary across regions and even stores. Since we do not have store stock information here at Customer Care, we invite you to speak directly with your local Store Manager to express your interest in seeing the store stock these product and the possibility of the store ordering it in for you. ” – Sobeys
Health Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Alerts
CFIA is prioritizing the following inspections and services for food safety:
• Food safety investigations and recalls
• Animal disease investigations
• Inspection services
• Export certification
• Import inspection services
• Emergency management
• Laboratory diagnostics in support of the above
CFIA is temporarily suspending:
• Food inspections and investigations not related to food safety
• Low risk surveillance or sampling activities (food, plant and animal)
• Inspections of preventive control plans and plant and animal inspections in areas of low risk
• Low risk labelling and domestic facility inspections
• Low risk feed, seed and fertilizer permissions
Statement from BRCG – Gluten-free Certification Program Management
“To be in line with the GFSI’s position, BRCG are offering our certified sites a 6 month extension to their certification subject to the successful completion of a risk assessment which will be conducted by the site’s Certification Body who will then confirm whether it is appropriate to continue certification.
This risk assessment will include but will not be limited to:
- Summary of site procedures to manage the impact of Covid-19, including any extraordinary circumstances to the site operations and the effective implementation of any emergency response plan
- Any changes to site operations due to staff shortages or the need to manage staff access, hygiene, sickness or movements
- Review of internal audits schedules and implementation, to ensure that product safety systems continue to operate effectively under pressure
Once the site becomes accessible, the full onsite audit will take place as normal and a new certificate will be issued for a further 12 months. BRCG continue to work with our certified sites during this very challenging time for all of us to serve the needs of those with diverse food needs. Our aim is to ensure that there is not only a sufficient supply for all, but also that this supply continues to be safe.”
What does this mean for GF consumers? Continue to be vigilant on reading labels and reporting any illnesses related to GF products consumed. If you feel you have become ill, please click here to follow our step by step guide.
GF Shopping List – Getting Prepared
CCA Professional Advisory Council Dietitians recommend what gluten-free consumers should stock up in their pantries.
- Dried pulses – lentils, beans and peas (make sure to place on a cookie sheet, visually inspect for any foreign grains and remove these, place pulses in a colander and rinse well with cold water before using)
- Canned pulses – place in a colander and rinse well with cold water
- Peanut butter
- Gluten-free pastas
- Canned fruits in their own juice or water
- Canned salmon, tuna, sardines
- Canned tomatoes, tomato paste
- Shelf stable milks (regular and dairy free)
- GF broths
- Coconut milk
- GF rolled oats
- GF granola and other cereals
- GF flours and starches
- GF crackers, rice cakes
- GF snack bars
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
CCA National Office Update
CCA staff are practicing social distancing. Some of our staff have returned to working in the office part time.
CCA staff have access to their phone messages and emails so don’t hesitate to contact our staff for support and resources. Click here for emails and phone ext.
Support the celiac and gluten-free community
If you would like to help others in your community, please consider donating to support these efforts. Click here to donate.