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May 1, 2006

Positive media on new labeling law

Here's yet another high level story about the new labeling law. It misses the discussion about manufactures that already catered to the food allergy community are now forced into confusing labeling by the law. This time from a Seattle news station...

Food labeling helps fight food allergies

If you have a food allergy, you know grocery shopping can be exhausting. You never know if what makes you sick will pop up in a product you wouldn't expect. Now, a new change in food labeling takes out the guesswork.

Most of us take eating for granted. Not Jeanne McGrady. Every day she's challenged to find foods that won't make her sick. "It's like a diet if you're trying to lose weight; you have to retrain the way you're thinking about food," she says.

McGrady's allergy to wheat is so severe, just a small amount wipes her out. "I get very nauseous, and I'm extremely tired, but the worst thing that happens to me is I feel like my bones are rotting."

Thirty-thousand people end up in emergency rooms each year because of food allergy reactions. About 150 die. Part of the problem is allergens buried in the ingredient list in scientific jargon make labels unclear ... But not anymore.

"They don't have to look at a food label and be confused," says Alana Booth, R.D., of Swedish Medical Center in Seattle.

A new law requires food manufacturers to clearly list any amount, even a trace, of eight common foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. They make up 90 percent of all food allergens.

McGrady says, "I can go right down to the bottom where it says allergy information and find out if I can eat it or not."

Food manufacturers must now use wording that's easy to understand. That's especially helpful for spotting allergens in foods you wouldn't expect, like wheat in licorice, soy in hot dogs, and nuts in mint chocolate cookies.

"I read every single label because you just never know," McGrady says, because now it's easier for her to be sure.

Products that were already out before the law went into effect did not have to change their labels, so there are still some old labels on store shelves. The transitional period may last up to 18 months. The new labels have the allergen list at the bottom of the ingredient list in bold.

Posted by David at May 1, 2006 8:09 AM