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CCA COVID-19 Resources

Updated:  September 15, 2020

CCA is pleased to offer a growing list of resources and information as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts the Canadian gluten-free community.

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!

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.

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:

 Click here for tips on reading US food labels

Health Canada

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.

Health Canada published web pages to support Canadians in healthy eating and meal planning during the COVID-19 pandemic. These pages include information to advise Canadians that access to safe food is critical to prevent life-threatening reactions for people who require special diets and for those living with food allergies, sensitivities and gluten-related disorders. (End of Notice)

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)

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

Food Safety

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:

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.

 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.

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