Lowey And Kennedy Introduce Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act

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Hooray! Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Senator Edward Kennedy are introducing a bill entitled the "Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act" sometime this week. The bill contains the following provisions:

1. Manufacturers shall label all foods that intentionally contain a "known food allergen" (i.e. milk, egg, fish, crustacea, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts or soy beans) in bold, easy to read type using the common or usual name of the food allergen. This requirement shall also apply to spices, flavorings, colorings or incidental additives that are, or contain, a known food allergen.

2. Manufacturers shall follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) that minimize, to the extent practicable, the unintentional presence of allergens in food. Manufacturers will not be permitted to use "may contain" labels unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines that the required GMPs will not eliminate the unintentional presence of a known food allergen.

3. Manufacturers whose gross sales are $500,000 or more shall include toll-free telephone numbers (staffed during reasonable business hours) on their labels. Manufacturers whose gross sales are less than $500,000 shall include their mailing addresses or Internet sites on their labels.

4. Manufacturers who fail to conform to these requirements shall be subject to civil penalties.

5. The Centers for Disease Control shall gather data on food-related allergic responses.

6. The National Institutes of Health shall convene a panel of experts to develop a plan for coordinating food allergy research.

7. The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall develop recommendations on: -training emergency response technicians to administer epinephrine autoinjectors and the need to maintain these devices on emergency vehicles -preparing allergen-free foods in restaurants and schools.

If there ever was a time to "Take Action," it is now! Please write to your Senators and House Representatives and demand that they support this important, life-saving legislation. Please do it today!

[This message has been edited by Colleen's Mom (edited May 10, 2002).]

On May 9, 2002

Please post the bill numbers when issued- HBXXX or SBXXX so I can cite in correspondence. Thx.

On May 9, 2002

This is great news! Thanks!

On May 9, 2002

H. R. 5532 (106th Congress)

On May 9, 2002

Just remember when you vote...the ADA bill was sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin from Iowa, a Democrat and now this bill is sponsored by Democrats.

(Sorry...couldn't help it. My husband is a Republican and we fight all the time.)

On May 10, 2002

Cathlina,

You last post made me laugh! My best friend comes from a serious, politically active democratic family, and is a die hard democrat herself. She married a lovely man, who is a *GASP* republican. She was afraid to tell her family, but I assured her that this wasn't really a scandal, it can happen in the "best of families" [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]! The political debates sure are lively in their house.

Amy

On May 10, 2002

I just received the following message from Congresswoman Lowey's Legislative Aide:

"I will have the House and Senate bills numbers sometime next week. The bill was just introduced yesterday, and it takes a day or two before we get a #. Thanks for offering to help move the bill. The best thing to do is encourage friends to write their representatives and senators asking for their support of the bill."

I'll continue to keep everyone posted!

On May 10, 2002

I've written to all the reps from Minnesota and sent the word on for others to do so. Let's make this happen! Lisa

On May 10, 2002

Amy,

I am not allowed to discuss politics at my husband's family's house. (Yep...all Republicans, too.)

But, at my parent's house, we take jabs whenever possible. HA!

Everyone please e-mail Senator Harkin from Iowa. He is one vote we can get on this bill. Senator Kennedy has a nephew who is allergic to peanuts...I think it is one of Bobby Kennedy's kids.

On May 15, 2002

The Food Allergen Consumer Protection can now be found on Thomas: [url="http://thomas.loc.gov/"]http://thomas.loc.gov/[/url]

The bill # is HR 4704 on the House side and S2499 on the Senate side.

Here is a sample letter as suggested by our friends at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. I STRONGLY encourage you to personalize the sample letter by incorporating your own experiences as a food-allergic consumer or the parent of a food-allergic child. An individualized letter is worth ten mass-produced letters. Also, as CSPI points out, while an e-mail to your Senators or House Representative is good, an "ordinary mail" letter is better. The bill needs bipartisan support to pass, so I urge you to write your own ordinary mail letter as soon as you can:

Dear Senator/Representative _____:

I urge you to cosponsor S. 2499/HR 4704, the Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act. Millions of Americans have food allergies, and each year about 150 people in the United States die from anaphylactic shock caused by a food allergy.

Most children who have food allergies have their first exposure to allergens in their homes. A 2000 survey conducted jointly by the Food and Drug Administration, Minnesota, and Wisconsin found that one-quarter of the bakery products, candy, and ice cream sampled were contaminated with peanut or egg ingredients that were not declared on the product labels.

S. 2499/HR 4704 (introduced by Senator Kennedy/Representative Lowey on May 7, 2002) would require companies to list the major allergens (including those in spices, flavorings, and colorings) by their common English names in a more readable format and to include a telephone number on the label that consumers could call for more information. The legislation would also require manufacturers to better prevent cross-contact between products made in the same facility or on the same production line and would permit them to indicate on labels that the food may contain allergens when the possibility of contamination cannot be totally excluded. The bill would also allow the Food and Drug Administration to assess penalties against firms that violate the food allergen requirements and require the Centers for Disease Control to establish a system for tracking food allergy-related deaths. Finally, the bill directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop recommendations on training emergency medical technicians with respect to administering epinephrine and the need for emergency vehicles to carry such devices, to support activities to increase awareness of guidelines aimed at training restaurant employees on preparing allergen-free foods, and to develop recommendations for schools on how to prepare allergen-free foods.

I urge you to cosponsor this important public health legislation.

Sincerely,

Name Address

[This message has been edited by Colleen's Mom (edited May 15, 2002).]

[This message has been edited by Colleen's Mom (edited May 17, 2002).]

On May 15, 2002

Colleen's Mom, Thanks for the info. I'll be sending my letters out right away. I will also email this info to all my family and friends. B's Mom

On May 15, 2002

I would suggest (if you can fit it onto one page) adding some personal example to the sample letter. Just like everyone else, our legislators may not 'get it.' We need to emphasize that it is a life or death thing, not just a convenience issue. I also mentioned in my letter that bad labelling costs $$$ in emergency room visits and insurance reimbursements. (Not that I would think that any of our fine legislators would be more interested in money than they are safety). Just a thought.

On May 15, 2002

WOW! Thank you for this great info! I'm still new to this whole 'posting etiquitte' and stuff, but shouldn't we have something about this on the MAIN DISCUSSION BOARD as well? This is BIG STUFF and I think that most everyone would write a personal letter. (I have found this forum a little sleepy at times and don't always check here..) Hey Chris, what do you think? should there be a notice on the main board or one of those clicky-linky thingys? (pardon spelling please, it's SO past my bedtime)

On May 16, 2002

Here

On May 23, 2002

Melrose Mum

Someone can post on the Main Discussion Board and link to this thread, we should try to keep the discussion together.

This is an important issue and we need to be sure as many people see it as possible!

------------------ Stay Safe,

[email]Chris@PeanutAllergy.Com[/email]

On May 25, 2002

I just sent my e-mails and will be sending written letters also.

On May 25, 2002

Lots of questions --

Anyone have any connections with folks "on the hill" -- lobbyists, interns, whomever -- who could get us some info as to the names of major food companies who are IN FAVOR of this legislation & also those who are OPPOSED (and why). Where does FAAN stand on this legislation? (Not that I always agree with what FAAN has to say. . . ) What loopholes does the legislation's language afford food manufacturers?

Just some things to research & consider.

Am certainly all for food label legislation, but want it to be *tough* rules.

I also want to know which food companies to BOYCOTT PERMANENTLY -- those which are adverse to divulging their ingredients and/or exposing their dangerous cross-contaminating manufacturing processes.

Getting wordy & worked up. Going away now. EB

On May 25, 2002

Amie Rappoport of the Food Allergy Initiative(FAI) has been working on this project, maybe she would have that information. Also, here's a link that POFAK had posted that will take you to a form letter that you can e-mail to your congressmen. I've heard that a written letter is better, so I did both. I also e-mailed this link to family and friends and asked them to send in an e-mail as well. Don't forget that if you and dh/dw are both registered voters, each of you should send something to get the numbers up.

[url="http://www.foodallergyinitiative.org/section_switch.cfm?section_id=15"]http://www.foodallergyinitiative.org/section_switch.cfm?section_id=15[/url]

Another contact might be one of the bills' sponsors. There is likely to be a staff person in charge of tracking that information. It would be nice to know who's lobbying against us.

On Jun 3, 2002

I have a question about the second item in the bill:

2. Manufacturers shall follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) that minimize, to the extent practicable, the unintentional presence of allergens in food. Manufacturers will not be permitted to use "may contain" labels unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services determines that the required GMPs will not eliminate the unintentional presence of a known food allergen.

Manufacturers will not be permitted to use "may contain" labels unless.... It seems to me there has been a lot of discussion on these boards where people WANT things labeled as being on shared equipment etc, even if the manufacturer is pretty sure there is no cross-contamination. Some parents want the decision to be in their hands, not left with the manufacturer. Also, I seem to remember reading somewhere that tests for cross-contamination do not measure a low enough level of allergen--that an even smaller level of allergen could cause a reaction in some people. So, not to start an argument (the bill basically sounds good to me) but is this good enough? Do we want HHS to deem the manufacturer's process "good enough" and then go by that? What does Canada do as far as "may contain" labels go?

So if this becomes law, will the foods that are labelled no longer be labeled? Will the cleaning process be better?

Here's a link to the Good Manufacturing Practices. There's nothing about allergens. It talks about contamination, but it seems to be referring to bugs and rat hairs and microorganisms, not other foods. I haven't read it all carefully, so if someone else sees something that I didn't, please point it out.

This bill still sounds pretty good--sounds like a company either has to prove their food isn't cross-contminated with an allergen, or they must label for it. That's a step in the right direction.

[This message has been edited by BENSMOM (edited June 03, 2002).]

On Jun 3, 2002

I was the one who said that the cutoff the lab uses is higher than what it would take to cause a reaction in some people. I am all over these boards about the incident with WholeSoy (see my petition link). My daughter`s allergist clearly stated that the cutoff of 2.5 ppm that the University of Nebraska (the main food allergy testing lab in the United States) uses is higher than what it would take to cause a reaction in some people. This is confirmed in "The Peanut Allergy Answer Book" by Michael Young, M.D. My daughter is living proof of that fact when I gave her WholeSoy Glace and she had a reaction. The remaining product tested negative for peanut, again with a cutoff of 2.5 parts per million. If the product were in fact peanut free, she would not have had a reaction. My daughter`s CAP-RAST is Class IV, so there are people who are even more at risk than she is. See the post on the Main Board about the petition and it will clarify this. I had the same thoughts about the bill. It looks great except for the part of only putting may contain if there is real risk. That part scares me. For example, the owner of WholeSoy thinks there is no risk, and I SAVED MY DAUGHTER`S LIFE AFTER SHE ATE IT. That phrase will make manufacturers less likely to put on a may contain, and will get them off the hook. If only that part of the bill could be taken off, it would be great.

On Jun 5, 2002

Getting a law passed is important, we can add to an existing law a lot easier than trying to get a new law passed that has what the opposition may call "extreme" conditions.

I think there was discussion (on the PeanutAllergy.Com discussion boards) on this years ago when this legislation was first started.

------------------

On Jun 5, 2002

Jumping in here... yes, I'm Canadian. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

Bensmom and others - Our labelling states that "may contain" may not be used in place of good manufacturing practices. In other words, you can't slap a label on a product because you're too lazy to clean your equipment properly. If there is a risk of cross-contamination, but the item is not run on the same line as the allergen, the labelling will state "manufactured in the same facility with peanut products". A company like Kellogg Canada can get away with NO labelling, because their GMPs are top notch:

1) They thoroughly break down and clean their lines every weekend. They run allergen-containing lines last thing in the week, before the cleaning.

2) They worked with an allergy task force (not sure what it was actually called or was comprised of) to develop their GMPs. They were honoured by Anaphylaxis Canada for their great strides for food allergic people in the food industry.

3) They do actually have peanuts in their plant, but they're not required to label because the peanut are in a single room, sealed, with reverse ventilation so that when the door is opened the peanut dust does not fly out and contaminate the lines.

This stuff is just off the top of my head from my own research in the past year. I'm sure someone can answer your concerns much more concisely, but I feel comfortable with Canada's labelling guidelines and I hope the new U.S. bill equals them.

Carolyn

On Jun 10, 2002

Dear Ben's Mom

After the bill becomes law, the FDA will be charged with creating a new set of regulations that further describe the manufacturers' obligations with respect to preventing cross contamination and using "may contain" labels. I would assume that these regs would be as detailed, if not more so, than the current GMP regs that you cite in your posting. The FDA would enforce these new regs through plant inspections and recalls, just as they do now with the current GMP regs. This system will never be perfect and will not eliminate the need to call manufacturers (which is why the bill also provides that manufacturers shall include their phone numbers on labels), but if the the bill passes, it will be a vast improvement over what we have in place today.

[This message has been edited by Colleen's Mom (edited June 13, 2002).]

On Jun 10, 2002

Just mailed my letters. Thanks so much!

------------------ Stay Safe, Fran

On Jun 12, 2002

Just saw a post on anothor board- Tennessee constituents in particular need to contact Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) at his district office and indicate their support for this bill. (Original alert issued by Food Allergy Initiative)

On Jun 16, 2002

hr4707 link

click here

[url="http://www.peanutallergy.com/hr4707.htm"]www.peanutallergy.com/hr4707.htm[/url]

------------------ Stay Safe,

[email]Chris@PeanutAllergy.Com[/email]

On Jun 16, 2002

.

On Jun 16, 2002

Chris, I've tried several times to access the link above but there is nothing there... is it me or is there a problem with the link?

(Its probably me as I'm sick and its almost 1 am and I can't sleep!)

Thanks, Valerie

On Jun 17, 2002

Problem with the web page it is linked to, working on it, should be working early this week.

Email me if it is not working by Wed. pm

Stay Safe,

[email]Chris@PeanutAllergy.Com[/email]

------------------ Stay Safe,

[email]Chris@PeanutAllergy.Com[/email]

On Jun 28, 2002

Thank you all for this important info! Sent emails, will send letters today.

On Jun 28, 2002

>>> I am writing to respectfully request your support of the Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act (S. 2499 and HR. 4704). This bill has been sponsored and introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy and Congresswoman Nita Lowey in order to help the over seven million American children and adults who suffer from food allergies identify safe and unsafe foods in order to stay healthy and alive. Recent studies estimate that each year over 200 Americans die due to the ingestion of allergenic foods and 30,000 receive life-saving treatment in emergency rooms. The good news if this bill is passed, many of these deaths and near-fatal incidents can be prevented.

The only way to avoid a potentially life-threatening food allergic reaction is to avoid the food allergen. Unfortunately, reading ingredient labels is difficult because ingredient statements are written for scientists, not consumers. There are over 30 terms for milk and over 18 terms for egg. Furthermore, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act exempts natural and artificial flavorings from ingredient labeling requirements. This is dangerous and wrong because these terms may refer to any food, including milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy - the eight most prevalent food allergies. The Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act addresses these issues by:

* Requiring that food statements list in common language, what, if any, of the eight main food allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, soy, and wheat) are contained in the product;

* Closing the additive loophole by requiring ingredient statements to take into account if any allergens were used in the spices, natural or artificial flavorings, additives, and colorings;

* Requiring food manufacturers to include a working telephone information number on food labels;

* Requiring manufacturers to better prevent cross-contamination between products produced in the same facility or on the same production line;

* Requiring the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to track food-allergic related deaths.

All families deserve to feel confident about the safety of the food on their tables. I urge you to show your support the Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act by contacting your Senators or Congressmen. Please make an appointment with them or one of their staff members at their District office and explain to them the benefits of this critical bill that will help food-allergic consumers to more easily identify product ingredients, and stay healthy. In addition, please email them by Clicking Here.

For more information about this bill or if you would like the contact information for your Congressional Representatives, please contact Amie Rappoport, Administrative Director of the Food Allergy Initiative at [email]ARappoport@FoodAllergyInitiative.org[/email] or at 212-527-5835. For more information about the Food Allergy Initiative, please visit [url="http://www.FoodAllergyInitiative.org"]www.FoodAllergyInitiative.org[/url] In advance, I thank you for your time and support of the Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act -- it will help save lives.

Sincerely,

Amie Rappoport, Esq.

Administrative Director Food Allergy Initiative 625 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10022 (212) 527-5835 Fax: (212) 527-5837 [email]ARappoport@FoodAllergyInitiative.org[/email] [url="http://www.FoodAllergyInitiative.org"]www.FoodAllergyInitiative.org[/url] The Food Allergy Initiative (FAI), a national non-profit organization, is dedicated to finding a cure to life-threatening food allergies. In addition to funding research and clinical activities to identify and treat those at risk, FAI supports public policy initiatives to create a safer environment for those afflicted, and educational programs to heighten awareness among health and child care workers, schools, camps, and members of the hospitality and food service industries about food allergies and the danger of anaphylaxis.

On Jul 8, 2002

I just received a response to the letter I mailed to my congressman. He (Congressman Rush Holt-NJ) sent me personal (not a canned response) letter by mail. Congressman Holt is a cosponsor of The Food Allergy Protection Act and is very aware of how serious food allergy can be (his wife is a physician). I am very impressed. So it does pay to write those letters. I urge everyone to send one to their congressmen/senators. B's Mom

[This message has been edited by B's Mom (edited July 09, 2002).]

On Jul 17, 2002

Dear Friends,

I just received word from the Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest that the food industry is mounting a major letter-writing campaign against the Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act, which was introduced by Senator Edward Kennedy and Congresswoman Lowey on May 7, 2002. While this news hardly came as a surprise to me, it was nevertheless distressing to hear that the food industry is already gearing up to obliterate this important and life saving legislation. Please, please please, if you have not already done so, write a letter to your Senators and House Representatives in support of this bill and ask your friends and relatives to do the same. Our children's lives are at stake!

On Jul 17, 2002

Count me in. My husband's working late tonight so I'll get my printer fired up for late night printing marathon.

On Jul 17, 2002

I'm printing up my letters to Kanjorski, Santorum, and Specter in Pennsylvania as I type this. I'm printing up letters for the relatives as well. My mom always puts a personal note in the form letter too.

On Jul 22, 2002

We were called today to see if we could let our members know that Sen. Kennedy's food allergy bill may be voted on a week from Wednesday. Sen. Kennedy wants to have it put to vote on July 31st so the reminder was to be sure you have called and/or faxed (which are both better than email or regular mail at this time) your senator to support the bill. He wanted to be sure you knew you could look up your senator at [url="http://www.senate.gov"]www.senate.gov[/url] by going to that website and putting in your state etc.

Stay Safe,

[email]Chris@PeanutAllergy.Com[/email]

On Jul 22, 2002

Just finished emailing both my Senators and will give them a call tomorrow! Thanks for the info! Valerie

On Jul 23, 2002

If you haven't done it yet, forward the address below to everyone in your address book. It's very easy to show your support, and very quick to do. I've found that people have no probalem trying to lend a hand by contacting their rep. this way. Here's the link: [url="http://www.foodallergyinitiative.org/section_switch.cfm?section_id=15"]http://www.foodallergyinitiative.org/section_switch.cfm?section_id=15[/url] . If this didn't work, it's been posted on this thread above. Thans to everyone who has given examples of letters for us to send. Eventhough, I've emailed,I've also faxed mine out this morning. Do everything you can to help get this bill passed!

On Jul 23, 2002

Even though I mailed my letters back in May, I just called both of my Senators from NJ and asked how they will be voting on this bill. Good News! Both Senator Torricelli & Senator Corzine will be voting in favor of this bill. I urge everyone to call today!

On Jul 24, 2002

Thanks for the tip Jonathan's mom. I'll fax my letters for a double whammy too.

On Jul 28, 2002

I emailed every single senator on [url="http://www.senate.gov"]www.senate.gov[/url] and sent them a copy of the letter on [url="http://www.foodallergyinitiative.com"]www.foodallergyinitiative.com[/url] Also, sent a hard copy to the senators of my state.

let's keep our fingers crossed.

On Jul 31, 2002

Senator Kennedy had scheduled the Committee vote on the bill for today. But at the request of Republican Senators, he has postponed the vote until early September (the Senate leaves town this week-end until Labor Day).

On Jul 31, 2002

August is the month to ask to see their Senators at home. US mail won't work, as it may take over a month to get a letter to Senate offices because of anthrax fears. Fax, e-mail, and telephone calls are ok.

On Dec 30, 2005

Quote:

Originally posted by cathlina: [b]Just remember when you vote...the ADA bill was sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin from Iowa, a Democrat and now this bill is sponsored by Democrats.

[/b]

completely understand. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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