2011-2012 Undeclared Allergens in Protein Substitutes

Executive Summary

The Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP) aims to modernize and enhance Canada's food safety system. As part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to evaluate various foods for specific hazards.

Protein substitutes have gained favour with consumers looking to increase their protein consumption for either weight loss or meal replacement purposes. There are a wide variety of protein substitutes available on the Canadian market in ready to consume liquid format or in powdered format that is traditionally added to juice, milk or water.

The main objective of the undeclared allergens in protein substitutes (liquid and powder) survey was:

  • To obtain baseline information regarding the presence and levels of undeclared priority allergens and gluten in protein substitutes (liquid and powder).

The information gathered will provide an indication of potential food safety concerns relating to undeclared allergens in protein substitutes (liquid and powder).

Two hundred and eighty six protein substitutes (liquid and powder) products were collected between April 2011 and March 2012. Samples were analyzed for the presence of undeclared allergens (soy, egg, milk (beta-lactoglobulin and casein), peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts and sesame) and/or gluten. The majority of the samples were analysed for more than one undeclared allergen and/or gluten, resulting in 1740 analyses completed on the 286 samples. Twenty positive results were obtained. These results were found in 18 samples that were tested for multiple allergens. Three undeclared allergens were detected; almond, gluten, and milk.

All positive results were followed up by Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Follow up actions may involve a food safety investigation, including a health risk assessment conducted by Health Canada and a recall or one of the following: notification to manufacturer/importer and/or additional sampling.

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