For the millions of people with food allergies, there is good news regarding food labeling: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires food labels to clearly state if food products contain any ingredients that are from any of the eight major allergenic foods.
The U.S. Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires food manufacturers to identify in plain English any ingredients that contain protein from the following:
- Fish (like scaly fish)
- Crustacean shellfish (like shrimp)
- Tree nuts
The labeling will list these ingredients specifically or say "contains" followed by the name of the source of the food allergen.
These eight major food allergens account for nearly 90% of all food allergy reactions, many of which are severe or life-threatening.
Kids and Food Allergies
This labeling will be helpful to children who need to recognize food substances to avoid. For example, if a food contains the milk-derived protein "casein," the product label will have to use the term "milk" (as well as the term "casein") so people with milk allergies can clearly understand the presence of the allergen they need to avoid.
Prevalence estimates show that 2% of adults and about 5% of children in the U.S. have food allergies. About 30,000 people require emergency room treatment annually -- and nearly 200 of them die -- because of allergic reactions to food.
See AAFA’s Survey Report on Food Allergen Labeling