Require companies to make allergy labeling easier to read and label more common allergies
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Today, around 82 people will be sent to the emergency room because of a serious allergic reaction to food. This could happen because of negligence or because of hard to read labeling/inadequate labeling on food consumed. There are over 160 known common food allergies, according to the FDA, but the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, which requires allergies to be labeled on food in the United States, only requires companies to label 8 of them. Even then, the labels on the food are hard to read and can cause an allergic reaction because of that.
Adding more common allergies to the required list
Of the 160 common food allergies recognized by the FDA, FALCPA requires only 8 to be clearly labeled: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish (shrimp, lobster, etc.), tree nuts, soy, peanuts, and wheat. These together account for a large portion of the food allergies, but there are more that need to be added to the list. The foods that should also be added are mollusk shellfish (clams, mussels, squid), mustard seed, sesame seed, corn, and gluten (Wheat is already on the list but many more plants do contain gluten, and a lot of people have celiac or an allergy to gluten). Together, all of these allergies (including the ones on the FALCPA list) are more than 90% of all food allergies worldwide.
Making Ingredients Lists Easier to Read
Currently, finding allergens on ingredients lists can be very challenging because there is little regulation on how they need to be labeled. The only regulation is that the allergen needs to be somewhere in the list. This means that if a food is flavored as peanut, instead of the list saying, in bold and at the bottom, "contains peanuts", it can say, in the list, Natural Flavors (peanut). This is very hard to spot and can cause many serious reactions because it is practically hidden. Companies should be required to clearly states what allergens it contains, easy to read, on all products, either at the bottom and separated from all ingredients, or bolded in the ingredients list.
150-200 people die every year in the United States because of food allergies, and hopefully, changes in the regulations of labeling can help to reduce that number.
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