The Need For Universal Allergy Symbols

Although allergies affect many people worldwide, there are currently no universal allergy symbols. It is estimated that about 25 percent of Americans suffer from some kind of allergy, including environmental and food allergies. Many food manufacturers label common allergens in their products, but most restaurants do not list these on their menus.

Allergen Warnings

European visitors are often surprised to see the United States does not require restaurants to label their menus with allergen warnings. Allergists have often suggested that the U.S. also needs to have a warning symbol for foods and non-foods that contain common allergens.

In the U.K., all foods that contain 5 percent of a particular food must be included in the ingredients listed on the food. There are 12 major allergens, including fish, crustaceans, peanuts, milk, egg, tree nuts, gluten, sesame, soy, sulfites, mustard, and celery, which must be listed with other ingredients on the food label regardless of how much is in the food. Although labeling may be helpful in preventing allergic reactions, the problem of cross-contamination can still occur when particles of allergens remain on equipment used for "allergy-free" foods.

Encouraging Allergy Awareness

Several allergy prevention groups have already designed universal allergy symbols that can be used if countries like the U.S. adopt a warning system for people with allergies. There are also allergy alert symbols that can be purchased and sewn onto clothing or book bags. For example, one website sells 3-inch patches with warnings such as "Medical Alert – epinephrine auto-injector inside," or "I Have Asthma – Inhaler Inside."

In the U.S., many fast-food chains and sit-down restaurants have voluntarily labeled their foods with nutritional information. If peanuts or other potentially dangerous allergens are in a menu item, the restaurants state this clearly on their websites or menus. Many establishments have done this to promote sales and to build positive relationships with customers who have food allergies. Until we have universal allergy symbols on all food products in grocery stores, as well as in restaurants, people with food allergies must practice extreme caution before eating foods with unknown ingredients.

Photo: Pixabay

Community

More Articles

You might have wondered if small amounts of an ingredient can be added to a food product without being declared on the food’s label. The FDA...

Is it possible to eat your way to a food allergy cure? Scientists think it’s...

There are many reasons why you may want to substitute almond flour for wheat flour in recipes. Of course, if you have a...

Not all oils are created equal. Some oils are high in saturated fats or in trans-fatty acids – not good for general health. Some are partially...

It may never be safe to begin feeding peanut butter to your baby or toddler if you have peanut allergies in your family. If either parent or one...

More Articles

More Articles

What is a peanut allergy? It is a reaction that occurs in the body after eating peanuts or peanut...

For those with severe food allergies, flying can be a stressful process. Here are...

Approximately one out of 13 children under age 18 are allergic to at least one food, though many of them will outgrow their allergy by the age of...

Fact 1: Over a third of food allergy reactions happen after the first known oral...

The reason why some people are affected by allergies while others are not begins in their genes. Allergies are passed down from generation to...

Here’s a tip that might someday save your life, or that of a loved one: two to four times a year, review the proper way to use your epinephrine...

Lactose intolerance is the inability to process lactose, a sugar found in milk, caused by the lack of a needed enzyme. Those with lactose...

Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA)

An important part of peanut allergy awareness was enacted on January 1, 2006...

Tomato allergies are very rare. They are a "type 1 allergy," which means a contact allergy. When a person with this type of allergy touches a...

Milk allergies are becoming more common, especially in babies and small children. There is some confusion about what is an allergic reaction and...

Recognizing food allergy in babies or toddlers is not always easy, but there are specific risk factors and signs that parents and other caregivers...

Burlap bags are often used to store and ship coffee beans, potatoes, rice, seeds, nuts, and peanuts. They can be one of the disguised...

People with pollen allergies need to stay away from some foods. If you have allergic rhinitis in the spring or fall, you may not realize that you...

Of course, everyone knows that if you have a peanut allergy that you should avoid peanuts, peanut butter, peanut butter cookies and foods that...

Eating at a nut-free lunch table in school is a safety precaution that causes some students to feel isolated from their peers. Unfortunately,...