New Food Labels to Alert People With Allergies

Posted on December 20, 2005

On January 1st a new law (2004 Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act) will go into affect requiring food labels to list any ingredients made from the following foods: milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, wheat, tree nuts, soybeans and peanuts. These eight foods account for 90 percent of all food allergies according to the FDA.

"The eight major food allergens account for 90 percent of all documented food allergic reactions, and some reactions may be severe or life-threatening," said Robert E. Brackett, PhD, Director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "Consumers will benefit from improved food labels for products that contain food allergens."
The FDA news release about the new labels says 30,000 Americans enter the emergency room and 150 people die each year because of food allergies. An NBC News article says an FDA study in 1999 sound many foods containing allergies were not properly labeled.
A 1999 FDA study in Minnesota and Wisconsin found a quarter of the baked goods, ice cream and candy its scientists sampled failed to list peanuts or eggs as ingredients.

Food labels must now list the common name of the product as well as the name of the specific allergen it contains. A product containing a protein derived from milk called casein, for example, must list both "milk" and "casein" on its label. Labels also must specify the type of fish, crustacean or tree nut the product contains.

This specific allergen information will be a great help to people that suffer from allergies. When it comes to food the policy should be the more information the better for consumers.

More from Science Space & Robots