It is that simple. What is in my food? People managing any type of special diet need to know what is in their food so they can make good choices for their health. People with celiac disease, life-threatening food allergies, food sensitivities, diabetes and other conditions/diseases can’t accept a gray area answer, they need to know if the food intentionally contains their allergen or avoidance food or if there is a risk of that specific ingredient might unintentionally be included. I enjoyed the honor of participating in Dr. Theresa Nicassio’s Radio Show to talk about the importance of food labeling and food allergies. As a result, I created a new page on my blog, which highlights important resources in understanding how to read a label. See below for details!
In case you missed the lunch time (West Coast lunch time that is) Radio Show, you can still listen on demand on Dr. Theresa Nicassio’s website!
My food allergy Food Allergen Labeling page highlights…
- Links to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website – these folks regulate consumer food products and uphold the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) for all foods except for meat and poultry
- Information explaining what FALCPA is and what it includes and equally as important, what the law does not cover, such as cross contact risk
- Free downloadable how to read a label handouts
- How to read a label poster created by food allergy consultant, Gina Mennett Lee
- Links to sign up for FDA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recalls, note: the USDA handles meat, poultry and eggs
- Tips on how to call a manufacturer with your allergen questions and inquire about the risk of cross contact
- The “Special Report: Investigating Motive and Safety in the Big Peanut-Tainted Cumin Recalls” by Allergic Living Magazine – this piece is a good example of the domino effect of a recall.
Risk of unintentional food allergen ingredients
When we were first embarking on our food allergy journey, sixteen years ago, today’s current labeling laws did not exist. It truly was a massive learning process and I can’t tell how grateful I am for today’s world and all the tools that people managing food allergies have 24/7 at their finger tips and in the grocery stores. FALCPA, mandates that the top major US allergens (peanut, tree nut, dairy, egg, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish) be labeled in common language if that food items contains any of those ingredients. BUT, and it is a big BUT; the law does not require a manufacturer to state if the product may contain a top 8 allergen due to a cross-contact risk or if the allergen in present in the facility.
Why could cross-contact or made in the same facility pose a problem? The best example I can give you is when my daughter opened up an Almond Joy candy bar (she is tree nut allergic with the exception of almond) and discovered a fully intact half of a peanut. The label did state “may contain peanuts” and yes, they were right. Unfortunately, those may contain statements are voluntary and not all companies use them. My daughter is not peanut allergic, but my son is and if he had eaten that candy bar, there might have been big trouble. Due to my son’s sesame allergy, which is not included in the top eight major allergens, we need to call manufacturers. If he outgrows his sesame allergy, we will still continue to call since the risks of unintentional allergens in food still remains.
Happy Food Allergy Label Reading!
Disclaimer: I hope you find some of this information useful. It is not intended to replace any direction you have received from your physician. Please speak to your doctor about how you manage your own or your family’s health. Each health condition is different and requires professional medical advice. I’m a mom who is thrilled to share her experiences. Some may resonate with you and some may send you running into the hills. It’s up to each of us to be in charge of our choices and by sharing information, we can start important conversations with our health care providers to lock in good plans.