How the FDA Laws for Food Allergen Labeling are Missing the Mark
It is estimated that over 32 million Americans have been diagnosed with food allergies. If you’re you’re in the food and beverage industry, that means there are 32 million reasons to be concerned about how food allergen labeling (or the lack thereof) could affect your business. Under the consumer protection act, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that food manufacturers list the top 8 major food allergens on their food labels, and until recently, that seemed to be serving the population well. However, there is a new food allergen on the rise that hasn’t been accounted for per the FDA but has officially reached numbers similar to a fish allergy, which is on the list. Perhaps the problem may be that the FALPA (Food Allergen Labeling Protection Act) hasn’t been updated in over 15 years…
According to reports, Sesame seed allergies are rising throughout the United States, officially reaching approximately 1.2 million in number. And as mentioned, it has the same impact on the population as a fish allergy, which is both well-known and on the Top 8 Major Food Allergens list. The same list with food items that the FDA requires special allergen information on food products citing major allergens in plain english so that the consumer can avoid allergic reactions from accidental consumption.
If you aren’t one of the unlucky 32 million american plagued by food allergies, it is pertinent to know (especially as a manufacturer) that the exposure alone can be deadly. Through cross contamination or consumption, a person having a food allergy that consumes their allergens can experience the stages of anaphylaxis. This biological process happens when the immune system can’t handle something that has been consumed. The soft tissue of the respiratory system begins to swell: causing wheezing, mucus build-up and difficulty breathing. This is what the general public understands as an allergic reaction. But if this reaction is severe, the victim is unable to breathe and it could result in their demise.
Going the Extra Mile in Food Allergen Labeling
This is why food allergen labeling surfaced per regulations set by the FDA through the food allergen labeling and consumer protection act. But as other allergens, like Sesame seeds, begin to rise in severity, food manufacturers may want to take the initiative to label food products containing substances derived from Sesame seeds.
When it comes to a matter of public health and the well-being of others, sometimes it is of merit to look beyond the enforcement of regulation and offer a solution out of courtesy.
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