I thought I'd spend some time discussing food allergen labeling. Even though, I've read labels faithfully now for almost 6 years, I recently learned something about the allergen labeling law that surprised me.
In January of 2006, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) went into effect. Here's what it addreses:
- Food manufacturers must disclose "major food allergens" to include milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and Crustacean shellfish.
- The allergen must be identified by name, i.e., cashews, tuna, shrimp, etc.
- A scientific ingredient like casein may be listed, but a more consumer friendly term, like milk, has to also be included.
- Allergens not considered major, for example, sesame seeds or cinnamon do not have to be listed and can be included in the terms "spices" or "natural flavors".
- Non-crustacean shellfish like clam and squid are not included.
- The "May Contain" advisory statement is voluntary.
I didn't realize this until I recently contacted Pepperidge Farms about their products. I was looking at one of their variety cookie products and was shocked to see that pecans was included in a very long list of ingredients, but there was no "May Contains" statement. I e-mailed them questioning this, and they advised me that they were in complete compliance (I'll post their response at a later date). Doubting them lead me to further research.