If you have a food allergy or sensitivity, you're likely accustomed to flipping packaged food over to check the ingredient list and warning labels. According to recent research, some food packaging labels are less effective than others in warning consumers that the product contains a potential allergen. The variety of allergen labels that may be found on supermarket shelves could be confusing shoppers, rather than helping them decide which food products are safe for them to consume, finds a new Canadian study.
According to the allergy labels in the U.S. are governed by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. In Canada, the Food Allergen Labeling Regulations set forth similar requirements. Although all of the various allergen labels that may be used on a food product warn that the product could include allergens, there are many different ways of presenting that message. The research team found that some labels are less effective than others, and that the sheer variety of label formats was confusing to consumers.
Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan, an allergy and immunology professor who worked on the study at Montreal's McGill University Health Center, suggests "We should narrow (various allergy labels) to only one which will be clear."
Have you found it difficult to decipher food allergen warning labels?