Food Ingredient Labeling

Vegans and those who suffer from food allergies will have a bit of added security in 2006 under new federal rules that require clear, no-nonsense labeling of products that contain common allergy-triggering ingredients.

"The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act," passed in the summer of 2004, will officially take effect on Jan. 1 after companies were given an 18-month head start to prepare. The law targets eight food groups that cause 90 percent of all food allergies, including milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, shellfish, wheat and soybeans.

Congress finds that--


(1) it is estimated that--

(A) approximately 2 percent of adults and about 5 percent of infants and young children in the United States suffer from food allergies; and

(B) each year, roughly 30,000 individuals require emergency room treatment and 150 individuals die because of allergic reactions to food;


(A) eight major foods or food groups--milk, eggs, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans-- account for 90 percent of food allergies;

(B) at present, there is no cure for food allergies; and

(C) a food allergic consumer must avoid the food to which the consumer is allergic;


(A) in a review of the foods of randomly selected manufacturers of baked goods, ice cream, and candy in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 1999, the Food and Drug Administration found that 25 percent of sampled foods failed to list peanuts or eggs as ingredients on the food labels; and

(B) nationally, the number of recalls because of unlabeled allergens rose to 121 in 2000 from about 35 a decade earlier;

(4) a recent study shows that many parents of children with a food allergy were unable to correctly identify in each of several food labels the ingredients derived from major food allergens;


(A) ingredients in foods must be listed by their ``common or usual name'';

(B) in some cases, the common or usual name of an ingredient may be unfamiliar to consumers, and many consumers may not realize the ingredient is derived from, or contains, a major food allergen; and

(C) in other cases, the ingredients may be declared as a class, including spices, flavorings, and certain colorings, or are exempt from the ingredient labeling requirements, such as incidental additives; and


(A) celiac disease is an immune-mediated disease that causes damage to the gastrointestinal tract, central nervous system, and other organs;

(B) the current recommended treatment is avoidance of glutens in foods that are associated with celiac disease; and

(C) a multicenter, multiyear study estimated that the prevalence of celiac disease in the United States is 0.5 to 1 percent of the general population.

Read the full findings here: