August 15, 2012, Ottawa: As part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) routine testing of various food products, a study released today found that more than 99% of pre-packaged ground spice samples tested for gluten would not pose a risk to gluten-sensitive consumers.
A total of 268 imported and domestic pre-packaged ground spices were collected from retail stores in 2010-2011. Health Canada determined that the very low but detectable levels of gluten in 62 of those samples, and the small amount of spice typically consumed in a meal, would not pose a health risk to sensitive consumers. One sample of mace was recalled due to a high level of gluten. This demonstrates the strength of the Canadian food safety system in identifying these foods and removing them immediately from the marketplace.
Pre-packaged ground spices sold in Canada are not permitted to contain any other ingredients. However, occasionally spices may contain undeclared gluten, either intentionally added during packaging or from cross contamination during food production. This is contrary to the Food and Drugs Act and may pose a health risk to sensitive individuals.
When there is a detection of elevated levels Health Canada completes an assessment to determine if the specific level poses a health risk, based on the contaminant’s level, expected frequency of exposure and contribution to overall diet. These factors help determine whether further action is needed, up to and including product seizure and/or recall. If a human health risk is found, a public recall notice is issued immediately.
The results have been shared with the food and consumer products industry to support their ongoing food safety activities.
Further information on this survey report is available on the CFIA website.