Status of AGs\' Petition to FDA--WE NEED YOUR HELP!
In May 2000, the Attorneys General of nine states (Connecticut, Maryland,Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming)petitioned the FDA for regulations mandating the following reforms in the manufacture and labeling of allergenic foods:
1)disclosure of all allergenic ingredients, including incidental additives and natural flavorings;
2)institution of procedures to minimize cross contamination with allergens;
3) toll-free telephone numbers on food labels for consumers seeking detailed processing and/or ingredient information; and
4)warning labels or insignias noting potential allergen contact.
To date, the FDA has failed to take any action on this petition. Instead, in May 2001, it released a Compliance Policy Guideline and a Guide to Inspections aimed at manufacturers that produce allergenic products. The FDA also assisted the National Food Processors Association and the Food Allergy Issues Alliance to prepare voluntary food allergen management and labeling guidelines, which were also issued in May 2001. These documents, as well as related press releases and other information, are available on the following websites:
[url="http://www.foodallergy.org"]http://www.foodallergy.org[/url] and [url="http://www.gmabrands.com/."]http://www.gmabrands.com/.[/url]
While the guidelines issued by the FDA and the food industry are somewhat helpful,
they provide inconsistent guidance on certain issues, such as cross-contamination, and
fail to address some issues altogether, such as natural flavors. Moreover, the food
industry guidelines are completely unenforceable. As such, these guidelines are not an adequate substitute for the regulations sought in the AGs' petition.
On August 13, 2001, the FDA is hosting a Public Meeting on the Labeling of Foods Containing Allergens. This meeting presents a tremendous opportunity to tell the FDA that it is not doing enough to ensure the safety of the food supply for those who suffer from food allergies. Registration forms will be available on the FDA website (address above) for those who wish to attend. For those who cannot attend, a letter in support of the AGs' petition would be greatly appreciated. Please direct your letters to:
Joseph A. Levitt
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition US Food and Drug Administration
Federal Building 8
200 C Street SW
Washington, DC 20204
Thank you for your help!