Well, guess what, those changes have come into effect as of August 4th 2012. I will try not to overload you with information, but I will certainly have a tonne of links for you to get as many opinions and facts as possible because I can't take credit as being the know all of all government policy and gluten free food regulations.
First to dispel some myths. One, Health Canada is NOT lowering any standards to allow foods to be labeled gluten free. There has been talk going around that that is the case. The labeling regulation for gluten free always has been and current still is 20ppm of gluten (parts per million) with these new regulations.
In June 2012, Health Canada released this statement about Health Canada's Position on Gluten-Free Claims. This article explains the new labeling regulations and states its position on the 20ppm of gluten:
Health Canada is of the position that at levels not exceeding 20 ppm of gluten as a result of cross-contamination, when Good Manufacturing Practices are followed, a claim suggesting the food is gluten-free would not pose a health risk to individuals with celiac disease and would meet the intent of B.24.018 of the FDR. This would be in keeping with the availability of validated methods (and their associated limitations, as outlined above), and would be consistent with the approach being taken internationally. -- Health CanadaThe same Health Canada article explains about labeling:
It is prohibited to label, package, sell or advertise a food in a manner likely to create an impression that it is a gluten-free food if the food contains any gluten protein or modified gluten protein, including any gluten protein fraction, referred to in the definition "gluten" in subsection B.01.010.1(1). -- Health CanadaKinnikinnick Foods, industry experts to explain. They have been in the business way longer than I have known about this connection, and I feel that they have a firm grasp of the gluten free diet, manufacturing process and government regulations. They wrote a really good blog post providing their opinions and explaining the benefits of these new regulations and offering some areas of improvement. Check out the blog post titled Health Canada Releases New Guidelines for Gluten Free, for this great explanation.
But in general, there will be more transparency when it comes to package labeling. Consumers will not have to be as scared to pick up a package and question the ingredients list. If gluten is an ingredient in that product, it will state it. Such a relief!
Have any questions for Health Canada about regulating 20ppm of gluten? Contact their Bureau of Chemical Safety for more details.
Click here for some details from the Canadian Celiac Association on the new labeling regulations. You can also learn more about how to define gluten free.