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March 25, 2006

Thoughts on New Food Labeling Law

For those of you who have been reading labels for food allergies, are you frustrated now? The following excerpts are from FAAN’s website. They were written in the article Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About FALCPA by Martin Hahn, Esq., and Meg McKnight, Esq.

“The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 was passed to ensure that individuals, particularly parents of children with food allergies and others providing food to those children, could easily and accurately identify food ingredients that may cause allergic reactions. Under FALCPA, allergen declarations must be written in plain English…by placing the word “Contains” followed by the name of the food source…or…by placing the common or usual name of the allergen in the list of ingredients. The law applies to food products that are labeled on or after January 1, 2006.”

How much more excited can we be that it’s easier now more than ever to feel safe about the foods we’re feeding our children!

I have always used Ener G Foods as a reliable source for my wheat, egg, nut, etc. allergic child. According to their website, they are “a wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut free, kosher certified facility.” I’m in! But their previously nut free egg replacer powder (which works great for replacing eggs in certain recipes) now carries a nut warning. Bummer! So I called Ener G Foods to see if they were going to change their process so the egg replacer would be nut free again. I was directed to this on their website:

Ener G Foods Allergen Statement
”All products manufactured by Ener-G Foods, Inc. are subject to our HACCP program. …by being a HACCP compliant facility, all risks of cross contamination, or even any food safety issue will be completely eliminated.”

The Ener G Foods customer service rep told me that their manufacturing process for the product had not change. That basically it was still manufactured on a line that made a tree nut product, but that there was not a risk of cross contamination. OK, then why did they add the warning? Here’s my frustration: Do I use the product because I always have and never had a problem? Or do I avoid it, out of fear?

I understand it’s all about CYA for the businesses. But what about the consumers? We feel safer now with the foods we feed our kids, but the “safe-food-pool” seems to be dwindling. Even some of the pretzels I used to buy for my other food allergic daughter (only eggs and peanuts) now contain traces of peanuts. Is it a new manufacturing process, or are the companies just letting us know now how they really do things? Can my kids still eat those foods? Or did the risk all of a sudden go up just because my knowledge changed?

AHHHHH! Sometimes I just feel like screaming! It’s that rollercoaster ride again. So, for the time being, I go back to making things from scratch, wondering how long it will be until they find a cure!

Posted by Ann Marie at March 25, 2006 6:18 AM


Not trying to be a pessimist, but I knew this sort of thing would happen. It happened w/ all the Aldi's brand breads, as well. I think it's laziness, and you're exactly right, it's CYA policy, but I frankly think it's unfair and I look forward to seeing how the enforcement comes down on these topics. I work for the USDA and I know that our order language is quite strict--I am interested in seeing how FALCPA is eventually enforced. If it anything like how my employer's branch of the govt. is enforced, I HOPE that these misleading labels will go away and be replaced with honest labels. We'll see, though. Just because one brach of the gov. does things one way doesn't mean another brach will do things that way.

Posted by: Leslea from allergyware.com at March 26, 2006 5:21 AM

Yup, yup, yup. I remember feeling so excited about the new label laws. And then came the depression as the labels started turning up "may contain . . ." "processed in a facility that . . . " I'm in the same tough spot with egg replacer. One the one hand, grateful for the info, on the other angry that for years I could have been unknowingly taking a risk. The thing that is frustrating, in this world were there are few foods that are actually "unprocessed" and untouched, (so few options for us aside from starting our own farm!) is that so few food manufacturers are devoted to the needs of the multiple-food-allergic consumer.

Posted by: Laura at March 26, 2006 7:29 AM