Food Allergen Labelling Rules May Impose Unnecessary Challenges...

Posted on: Tue, 02/27/2007 - 10:29am
2BusyBoys's picture
Joined: 09/03/2004 - 09:00

By Bryan DeBusk

SAN DIEGO, CA -- February 27, 2007 -- Thanks to new food labelling rules instituted last year, food-allergic patients on avoidance diets may have trouble finding safe cookies at their local retail stores, according to researchers speaking here at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) annual meeting.

Since January 1, 2006, food producers in the United States have been required to comply with the Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) by clearly indicating whether the product contains any of the 8 major food allergens (milk, egg, tree nut, peanut, fish, crustacean shellfish, soy, wheat) in the ingredient list or in a "Contains" statement (eg, contains: milk, soy, and egg).

"We wanted to find out what the impact of this new law would be, so we analysed labelling of 1 particular category of food product

Posted on: Tue, 02/27/2007 - 10:17pm
Kathy L.'s picture
Joined: 07/30/1999 - 09:00


Posted on: Wed, 02/28/2007 - 2:05am
Corvallis Mom's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

..."The changes in labelling are really making avoidance diets more difficult for food-allergic consumers and are probably compromising the quality of life that they experience as a result," he said.
My problem with a lot of Dr. Taylor's statements (he's the guy I dealt with over the "Peanut oil is safe..." statement) is that he is voicing opinions based on the MIDDLE of the sensitivity distribution. At best. This is frankly giving him the benefit of the doubt.
This particular presentation really ticks me off, in fact. Because far from "going too far," we have [i]personally[/i] found that FALCPA doesn't go nearly far enough. [img][/img]
My daughter's diet isn't "limited" by "labeling." It's limited by her freakin sensitivity to several UBIQUITOUS allergens. Ummmmm.... think there's a connection there?
It seems like a pretty lazy way to do a quick "research project" if you ask me. Might it be more useful in the future to judge which items are using CYA labeling and which are truly cross-contaminated, rather than simply sampling which ones now bear warning labels?? Maybe the labels are there for a reason. Ya think??
Maybe people with allergies weren't buying the (previously unlabeled) cookies which now have warnings ANYWAY... don't see that addressed anywhere.
Might it be that an entire INDUSTRY which pretty much guarantees heavy cross-contamination is what really "limits" the diet of someone with a PA?? Just maybe?
Rant over... I just find much of Taylor's public spiel incredibly biased toward a "there-there, it really isn't so bad... you shouldn't be so worried about all of this..." rhetoric that really annoys me. I know that I am neither hysterical nor irrational. I also know that his science isn't always as good as he'd like to think. [img][/img] FAAN eventually retracted the "but pn oil should be safe" line, and I suspect that my basic statistics might have had something to do with it. IMO, he's a pretty arrogant, patronizing guy, and he'd do well to actually listen to what comes out of his mouth from the perspective of the people it impacts...
ed to correct bad typing.
[This message has been edited by Corvallis Mom (edited February 28, 2007).]

Posted on: Wed, 02/28/2007 - 2:51am
jtolpin's picture
Joined: 05/28/2003 - 09:00

I dont understand.
With the new law, they have to say if it contains a top 8 allergen. Period.
Nothing else changes.
A company that didnt have 'may contains..' before doesnt need them NOW, so what was the point of the article?
If a pkg of X cookies didnt have a warning before, and doesn't NOW, arent you buying it (after calling, etc...)?
May contains 'to US' don't STOP us from buying a product... It may slow us down, sure, but stop us...? I dunno.
[b]* Beyond Obsessed * [/b]

Posted on: Wed, 02/28/2007 - 2:26pm
NicoleinNH's picture
Joined: 06/21/2003 - 09:00

Corvallis' Mom-when did FAAN admit that peanut oil may not be safe? I emailed them a month ago about an Edy's ice cream (I think it was choc chip cookie dough) that has a "PEANUT FREE" label on it and the 7th ingredient was peanut oil--they emailed me back saying peanut oil was safe if it was highly refined. I emailed them back to ask how they know it is "highly refined" and I've yet to get a response.
We avoid 'may contains' with or without a specific label that says "may contain"--I have actually found the new labels improving my overall quality of life [img][/img] Shopping is a bit easier and I stick to the companies who I think label most accurately. "Going too far"---he has no idea!
Thanks for the info!

Posted on: Thu, 03/01/2007 - 1:07am
starlight's picture
Joined: 01/16/2004 - 09:00

This article is true for me. I've never called companies, always trusted the labels, and always been fine. I have never reacted to a "may contain" or "contains traces". For instance, I used to eat Little Debbies religiously. I eat a bowl of ice cream almost every day (for years now) from companies that do not label for shared lines.
So the new labelling, for me, is a nightmare. Absolute nightmare. I lose something out of my diet almost once a week. I just can't bring myself to eat something that has "peanuts" on the label, even if I'm 100% positive it's CYA. Sometimes I will, but then I always end up obsessing about it and taking benedryl just in case. I'm dreading the day the ice cream companies follow suit with Canada and start labelling for shared lines. [img][/img]

Posted on: Thu, 03/01/2007 - 3:23am
jtolpin's picture
Joined: 05/28/2003 - 09:00

starlight, I dont understand.
If the product doesnt CONTAIN peanuts, the company doesn't HAVE to list 'may contains..' and you'd never be the wiser. So how do you 'lose a food once a week'?
[b]* Beyond Obsessed * [/b]

Posted on: Thu, 03/01/2007 - 3:41am
Corvallis Mom's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by NicoleinNH:
[b]Corvallis' Mom-when did FAAN admit that peanut oil may not be safe? I emailed them a month ago about an Edy's ice cream (I think it was choc chip cookie dough) that has a "PEANUT FREE" label on it and the 7th ingredient was peanut oil--they emailed me back saying peanut oil was safe if it was highly refined. I emailed them back to ask how they know it is "highly refined" and I've yet to get a response. [/b]
And I'm guessing when you finally do, it'll be total CYA...
I may have overstated things... but really, that statement about peanut oil being safe used to be right on FAAN's website. I complained about it and they put me in touch with Taylor. He backed down when I showed him a few calculations. (I also noted with some glee that his recent threshold study included PPM estimates.... not that he's likely to give me any acknowledgement there for the idea...) [img][/img]
Anyway, shortly thereafter, the statement disappeared on the website, replaced with something about consulting your allergist about it...
I am truly sorry that "may contain" labels have made life harder for the least sensitive PA people... really. BUT. Kids like my daughter are the ones at the gravest risk from XC... and without those labels, it is a given that she'll experience very severe consequences.
I don't see why you wouldn't simply call about an item which suddenly appears with an advisory label. I would, if it were something that we had been routinely consuming with no ill effects ever.

Posted on: Thu, 03/01/2007 - 4:53am
starlight's picture
Joined: 01/16/2004 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by jtolpin:
[b]starlight, I dont understand.
If the product doesnt CONTAIN peanuts, the company doesn't HAVE to list 'may contains..' and you'd never be the wiser. So how do you 'lose a food once a week'?
It's completely and totally psychological. Out of sight, out of mind, cwim? Once the word "peanut" is there, I can't get the thought out of my head and I start obsessing about it. But if it isn't there, I don't end up thinking about it and I don't have a problem.
Let me use an example. In the US, a manufacturer is allowed to have up to 5 fly eggs in a 250ml container of juice (about half a water bottle full) or up to 1 rodent hair in 100 grams of chocolate. If a product were labelled "may contain insect eggs or rodent hair/droppings", most people would have a pretty hard time bringing themselves to eat that, psychologically speaking, unless they're getting paid or are on TV. In the articles I found, it seems that 10-40% of any given product can be made up of these "natural contaminants". But the companies don't label for it, and most people can put that fact out of their minds and not worry about grabbing a chocolate bar. That is how it feels for me when a new XC label shows up on a product I was enjoying. Now that it's there in print, it can't be ignored. It becomes "real", more salient.
I don't end up calling because it wouldn't make a difference, I'd still end up obsessing because the word is there. I even have trouble eating things that are labelled "peanut free" because the stupid word is there. 20 years ago, people didn't understand the allergy half as much as they do today, so my mother was constantly having to tell relatives "a peanut will kill her" or they'd try to slip me peanuts to prove she was making it up. It's been ingrained into my life for over 20 years that peanut=death. I know how unlikely it is now I carry epis and benedryl wherever I go. But how do you erase 20 years of memories of your mom telling people that? How do you erase the sick feeling you get just seeing, heck, just TYPING the word? I can't.
I know the XC labels make life easier for a lot of PA people...I didn't have a clue anyone could be that sensitive until the first XC labels showed up and I stumbled on this site. So I understand why they're needed, and I wouldn't vote to go back to the way things were because people do need them. It's just been a very hard thing for me to adjust to.
[This message has been edited by starlight (edited March 01, 2007).]

Posted on: Thu, 03/01/2007 - 4:58am
jtolpin's picture
Joined: 05/28/2003 - 09:00

okee dokee.
I dont know what else to say.
[b]* Beyond Obsessed * [/b]

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