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Posted on: Wed, 07/07/2004 - 4:16am
Nutternomore's picture
Joined: 08/02/2002 - 09:00

Looks like we might see action as soon as next week on a full House vote!
Labeling rules likely for food allergies by next week
The Wall Street Journal
July 7, 2004, 1:49 PM EDT
In a welcome development for millions of Americans who suffer from food allergies, the House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill next week that will require food makers to label, in plain English, eight of the most troublesome ingredients: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. The eight account for roughly 90 percent of the nation's food allergies.
The Senate passed the bill unanimously in March, and President Bush is expected to sign it into law. A few companies already label their food this way, but all would have to adopt the new practices by Jan. 1, 2006.
Food allergies are a significant and growing problem. Fully 3.5 percent of Americans are allergic to some type of food, according to Hugh Sampson, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
Allergic reactions to food range from relatively mild skin swelling to respiratory or heart failure. In the most severe cases, anaphylaxis, a violent allergic reaction, can cause death in five to 15 minutes. While an immediate injection of adrenaline can prevent most deaths, there is no antidote.
About 30,000 people a year require emergency-room treatment for food allergies, according to the bill, and about 150 people die.
The legislation is a victory for plain-spokenness. Food companies will have to print the allergens' common names, either by themselves or in parentheses after the scientific name. That means words like ``casein'' won't disappear from ingredients lists on packaging _ but the word ``milk'' must also appear with it. The same is true if there's ghee, lactalbumin, rennet casein, lactoglobulin or whey, all of which are derived from milk. Albumin, livetin, ovalbumin, ovomucin, ovomucoid and ovovitellin would be labeled as ``egg.''
The bill also wipes out a regulatory loophole that allowed spices, flavors and colors to be named collectively. If any of the three contain an allergen, it must be labeled. Consumers, for instance, will no longer have to wonder whether ``natural flavorings'' or ``natural ingredients'' might set off an allergic reaction. The legislation, called the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, would be the first law ever enacted specifically to deal with food labeling for allergy sufferers.
The legislation also instructs the Department of Health and Human Services to define what constitutes ``gluten-free'' food and how it might be labeled in the future. That's a nod to the estimated three million or so Americans who sufferer from celiac disease, a digestive disorder that's triggered by gluten, a common protein found in wheat, barley and rye. The disease causes a variety of symptoms including diarrhea, cramps and severe pain, and can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, osteoporosis and other serious illnesses.
The current legislation isn't perfect, critics say. For instance it doesn't regulate the problem of ``cross contact'' of food during manufacturing. (That's when one assembly line produces two different products, one of which contains allergens that could get into the other.) Critics say this is a problem for people who are hypersensitive, since they can unknowingly consume a food that triggers a reaction. ``You get sick if you eat a crumb of bread,'' explains Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the center for celiac research at the University of Maryland. The bill would require HHS to collect data on allergic reactions possibly caused by cross contact, and submit a report to Congress.
The bill was many years in the making. Similar legislation was first introduced in 2000, but stalled. Food makers argued that the industry's voluntary labeling system, rolled out in September 2001, would be adequate. However last year, the legislation gained bipartisan backing, spurred by consumer. ``Once people understood the issue, we all realized that there was an important role for Congress to play,'' says Rep. Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.), one of the bill's primary sponsors.
Several large food makers, including Kraft Foods Inc. and General Mills Inc., are already complying with voluntary industry labeling guidelines that are similar to the requirements in the bill, according to Stephanie Childs of the Grocery Manufacturers of America, an industry group.
Without plain-English labels, shoppers with allergies find it hard to load their carts confidently. A 2002 Mount Sinai School of Medicine study that tested the knowledge of parents of severely allergic children concluded: ``Most parents are unable to identify common allergenic food ingredients.''
Allison Jacobsen of Morristown, N.J., says food shopping can take several hours, since her 17-year-old daughter has allergic reactions to eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts and dairy products. To guard against life-threatening allergic reactions, all labels must be carefully read for potentially lethal ingredients which are often masked in scientific lingo.
``Every time my daughter eats something, I worry,'' she says. ``There are no second chances with food allergies.''

Posted on: Wed, 07/07/2004 - 4:53am
momtomitchell's picture
Joined: 04/20/2004 - 09:00

This is great!
I'll keep checking their schedule to see when it comes up. I assume the meeting will be online?

Posted on: Wed, 07/07/2004 - 5:44am
Nutternomore's picture
Joined: 08/02/2002 - 09:00

Good chance that vote would be available on-line, or possibly CSPAN. Depends if it's brought to the floor in the middle of the night or during more normal hours.
Still trying to find out when the Committee Report will be released (that needs to happen before the full House can vote on the bill), but indications are that it looks to happen pretty quickly...

Posted on: Tue, 07/13/2004 - 11:44pm
synthia's picture
Joined: 10/05/2002 - 09:00


Posted on: Wed, 07/14/2004 - 10:20am
Nutternomore's picture
Joined: 08/02/2002 - 09:00

It's already pretty apparent, but I can confirm that it will [b]not[/b] be voted on this week. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]
All signs point to a vote next week (hopefully). The window of opportunity will close soon, since after next week, Reps. return to their home districts...no more votes until September, I believe.
All in all, though, my sources indicate that they believe next week the vote will probably take place.
Remember, the vote will be on [b]S. 741[/b] (FALCPA language is identical to what was originally introduced in the House as HR 3684).

Posted on: Wed, 07/14/2004 - 12:48pm
Jana R's picture
Joined: 02/09/1999 - 09:00

I hadn't really seen numbers of how much this will cost to implement so if anybody else hadn't seen numbers, here is this info:
[i] Title II: Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. Title II of the act would direct the Secretary to engage in a number of activities to increase scientific and public understanding of issues related to food allergies. CBO estimates that implementing title II would cost $5 million in 2005 and $50 million over the 2005-2009 period, assuming the appropriation of the necessary amounts.
S. 741 would amend the FFDCA to require that any food that contains a major food allergen be labeled in such a way that the presence of the food allergen is easily visible to consumers. Major food allergens are defined as "milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans." Section 203 also would provide for an appeal process whereby an individual or company could petition the Secretary to exempt a food ingredient from that labeling requirement. The Secretary would be required to approve or deny the petition within 180 days of receiving such an appeal. Based on information from the FDA, CBO estimates that spending by the FDA to carry out those responsibilities would amount to $1 million in 2005 and $5 million over the 2005-2009 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary funds.
The act also would direct the Secretary, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to engage in the collection of, and publication of data on the prevalence of food allergies, the incidence of serious adverse events related to food allergies, and the treatment and prevention of food allergies. Because true food allergy events are relatively rare (in contrast to food poisoning events), CBO expects that the CDC would engage in multiple strategies to identify and collect useful data, such as:
Analyzing existing data, including questions recently added to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to better assess the prevalence of known food allergies.
Adding laboratory tests to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to identify conditions that may be unknown to the survey participant.
Testing stored blood specimens that were collected in a previous cycle of the NHANES, and stored for future analysis, to estimate the prevalence of food allergy reactivity in the U.S. population.
Improving the ability of the nation's vital statistics system to monitor food allergy-related deaths by using intelligent automated systems to help physicians more accurately record cause of death, and by working with physicians' organizations to improve education on recording cause of death.
Increasing the precision of surveys of health care providers, and improving the quality of information recorded by providers, so that comparatively small numbers of events could be better detected.
Based on information from the FDA and CDC, CBO estimates that federal spending to develop and operate the system for collecting data on food allergies would total $3 million in 2005 and $41 million over the 2005-2009 period, subject to appropriation of the necessary amounts.
S. 741 would require the Secretary to submit a report to the Congress within 18 months of enactment. That report should analyze the extent to which foods are unintentionally contaminated with major food allergens during the manufacturing process, recommend manufacturing practices that would reduce the incidence of such contamination, and describe the types of advisory labeling currently being used by food producers, the extent to which such labeling is being used, and the preferences of those likely to be affected by food allergies regarding labeling information. Assuming the availability of appropriated funds, CBO estimates that the FDA would spend less than $500,000 in 2005 and a total of $1 million over the 2005-2009 period to produce that report.
S. 741 would require the Secretary to conduct inspections of food manufacturing, processing, and packing facilities to ensure that such entities are engaging in efforts to reduce the possibility of food allergen contamination and to ensure that food allergens are being appropriately labeled. Based on information provided by the FDA, CBO expects those tasks would be accomplished without increasing the number of inspections of food facilities and without having a significant effect on the cost of those inspections.
The act also would require the Secretary to develop guidelines for preparing allergen-free foods in food establishments (such as restaurants, bakeries, delicatessens, and cafeterias), and to issue regulations to define and permit the use of the term "gluten-free" on the labeling of foods. Based on information from the FDA about the cost of similar activities, CBO estimates that spending by the FDA to carry out those responsibilities would total $1 million in 2005 and $3 million over the 2005-2009 period. [/i]

Posted on: Wed, 07/14/2004 - 4:03pm
Nutternomore's picture
Joined: 08/02/2002 - 09:00

It has been reported by another advocate that according to an aide at Rep. Lowey's office, the House vote on FALCPA has been pushed back to September.
This is due to the heavy workload that the House has the next week with appropriation bills. As I mentioned previously, after next week, the House is in recess until September.
The feeling is still that the bill should pass without a problem once it gets scheduled for a vote.
We'll double-check this and report back (if for some reason this info is erroneous). However, I don't have any reason to believe it's inaccurate.
So, we'll have to put the celebration on hold for awhile. Further, we'll need to make some extra phone calls to legislative staff as we get closer to having the House re-convene to bring it back on the front burner and ask [b]again[/b] for their support when the bill comes to a vote.

Posted on: Wed, 07/14/2004 - 11:44pm
momtomitchell's picture
Joined: 04/20/2004 - 09:00

Oh Man!! What a huge disapointment! I knew something was up [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/mad.gif[/img]
I'm sure you're information is correct I will cross my fingers that it is not!

Posted on: Thu, 07/15/2004 - 1:18am
Jana R's picture
Joined: 02/09/1999 - 09:00

This press release also indicates it will be voted on this fall [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]
Press Release Source: The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
[i][b]20-Year Struggle Will End With Passage of Food Allergy Bill; Munoz-Furlong's Sick Child Provided Motivation[/b]
Thursday July 15, 5:06 am ET
FAIRFAX, Va., July 15 /PRNewswire/ -- A 20-year struggle will end with the passage of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. When her second child was born, Anne Munoz-Furlong spent endless hours worrying about why her daughter broke out in rashes and cried endlessly after eating. She discovered that her daughter had food allergies and a 20-year crusade for proper education and legislation began. Munoz-Furlong learned, like millions of Americans with food allergies, that understanding the scientific jargon of food labels can be a matter of life or death.
Munoz-Furlong, Founder and CEO of The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) [url="http://www.foodallergy.org,"]http://www.foodallergy.org,[/url] has long been a leading advocate for the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act that was passed by The Senate [b]and expected passage by the House of Representatives in the fall of 2004[/b]. As FAAN's CEO, she has spent the last 13 years working to bring together the medical community, the food industry and members of Congress to understand the importance of clear and consistent labels for the 11 million Americans with food allergies.
"I am ecstatic that those with food allergies can now be confident that what's on the label is what's in the package. Labels will now be written for consumers, not scientists," said Munoz-Furlong. "This bill is the first step to simplify ingredient statements and to make them reliable, consistent, and easy to read and understand, for family members who spend hours at the grocery store reading hundreds of labels in order to keep family members safe."
The bill (FALCPA, HR3684) will ensure that ingredient labels provide clear information about contents containing major food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans. FALCPA will also require food labels to indicate the presence of major food allergens in spices, flavorings, additives and colorings.
Munoz-Furlong helped craft the Voluntary Food Allergen Labeling Guidelines published in 2001 by the Food Allergy Issues Alliance. These Guidelines became the model for FALCPA which will now require food manufacturers to provide common language on labels. In 1999, she met with Representative Nita Lowey who since then has worked to make FALCPA a reality.
The lack of practical, scientifically-accurate information about food allergies made Munoz-Furlong determined to create a clearinghouse for such information.
In the years since its founding, FAAN has become the national and international leader in raising public awareness of food allergies and anaphylaxis, in providing accurate information about food allergy, and advocating for those families affected by the condition. FAAN has grown to more than 26,000 members.
She has spoken nationally and internationally on the work of FAAN and the patient's perspective to the food industry, schools, health professionals, and government organizations. To help others in other countries start up patient advocacy groups, she founded the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Alliance, an international group with member organizations in eight countries.[/i]
Source: The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Posted on: Sun, 07/18/2004 - 4:30pm
Nutternomore's picture
Joined: 08/02/2002 - 09:00

Ever hear the phrase about "snatching victory from the jaws of defeat?"
Guess what??????? We won't have to wait until September after all...
[b]The [i]final vote[/i] on the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA / S. 741) will take place on Wednesday, July 21, 2004!!!! [/b]
The House of Representatives will go into session at 10AM (EDT), on Wednesday, so best predictions are that we'll get the vote that day.
I couldn't believe it after all the press indicated that vote would be delayed until September, but there it is on the House Majority Whip's website (look for S. 741)
We will make history very soon!


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