Japan considering food allergy labeling for restaurants

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Japanese authorities have created a panel of experts to study how restaurant allergy labeling could be done in the country.

Current labeling regulations do not cover allergens in restaurant foods, but there are challenges to such an approach, especially with many of the popular restaurants with "revolving" menus.

The Consumer Affairs Agency opened the subject at a meeting on April 21 and has now convened the panel of experts as a result of that meeting – and the parents and food allergy advocates who attended.

"Children with food allergies and their parents long to be able to eat out," the representative told the panel, which plans to compile an interim report by the end of the year.

Since 2001, in Japan, pre-packaged foods must be labeled by law. There are seven ingredients considered required for labeling and 20 others that are recommended. Most food packagers now label for all 27.

Currently, Japanese restaurants can include food allergy warnings voluntarily, and many do so. The panel is considering whether mandating some labeling would be helpful or harmful to the industry and those it serves.

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