Government of Canada improves access to gluten-free foods

Government of Canada improves access to gluten-free foods
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May 29, 2015 Ottawa, ON Health Canada – New category of “gluten-free” claims allowed for specially produced oats: To mark Celiac Awareness Month, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, today announced changes that will result in more safe food choices for Canadians with celiac disease by approving “gluten-free” claims on specially produced oats and foods containing these oats.

Gluten-containing grains such as wheat, rye and barley are widely used in the production of many foods. People with celiac disease must avoid eating the gluten protein found in these grains to manage their condition. In the case of oats, normal agricultural practices can result in the unintended presence of small amounts of gluten from other grains. However, recent evidence shows that oats can safely be consumed by the majority of people with celiac disease, as long as they have been produced and processed to avoid cross-contamination by gluten from other cereals. Health Canada will now allow specially produced oats with trace amounts of gluten to carry a “gluten-free” claim.

On November 14, 2014, at an event in Saskatoon, Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar Kelly Block, on behalf of Minister Ambrose, announced Health Canada’s intent to allow the use of “gluten-free” claims. The Government remains committed to making safe and healthy foods available to Canadians as well as improving the options for Canadians with food allergies and intolerances.

Quick Facts

  • Celiac disease is an inherited medical condition that is triggered by the consumption of gluten. The immune system of an individual with celiac disease reacts negatively to gluten in the diet by causing damage to the inner lining of the small intestine, which reduces the person’s ability to absorb nutrients.
  • Health Canada’s decision is based on current scientific evidence, which shows that it is safe for the majority of people with celiac disease to eat specially produced oats, so long as they do not contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten from wheat, rye, barley or their hybridized strains.
  • This labelling change opens a new segment of the market to Canadian oat growers and food processors. The opportunity to reach customers with gluten-free diets will increase farmers’ revenue for oats, which in 2014 contributed nearly half a billion dollars to Canada’s economy.


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