With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life allergen-free.

02 February 2015

Food Allergy Consumer Labeling Woes

While labeling for the top 8 allergens has been an improvement for individuals managing food allergies in the United States, wouldn't it be so much better if food manufacturers were required to label ALL the ingredients in their food products? So many allergens can be hidden in "natural flavors", "fruit juices", or "spices". The recent cumin recalls really highlight this. Cumin and paprika--both in the recent recalls--are not required to be labeled by name on packaging in the United States. There is, consequently, no way to really know if a product contains cumin or paprika, or if it contains the contaminated cumin or paprika. This is causing quite a bit of alarm for those who only manage peanut and/or nut allergies, but we must recognize that this situation is everyday life for those living with allergies not included in the big 8, such as sesame allergy, black pepper allergy, celery allergy, etc.

I do not pretend to know how it would work or how it could be best implemented, but I do think this recent recall should be a good example of why we need better labeling still. Food allergies are on the rise, and the existing labeling requirements make it difficult at best to determine what foods are safe for those managing food allergies not included in the big 8. Peanut allergies always tend to get the most attention and the most play in media. If there is one positive thing that could come of these recalls, it should be that these recalls cause the very vocal peanut allergy community to rally together with the larger food allergy community and demand better labeling of ALL ingredients. We should seize this moment and make the most of it to promote such a change, thereby helping the entire food allergy community.

What do you think?
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