Currently viewing the tag: "FALCPA"

FDA BuildingOn Wednesday, three senate democrats issued a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the authority to issue a rule requiring manufacturers to label for the presence of sesame.

Sesame – though it is estimated that several hundred thousand Americans are allergic to the seed – is not recognized as an allergen under current FALCPA labeling rules, and so is often hidden under other ingredient names such as “tahini” or “natural flavoring”.

To quote the letter issued by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward Markey (D-MA):

Without required uniform labeling of the presence of sesame, consumers with this serious allergy have no way of protecting themselves or their family members from its potentially life-threatening consequences. As Congress recognized when it passed FALCPA (the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004), accurate and comprehensive allergen labeling is essential.

We at SnackSafely.com wholeheartedly endorse the senators’ efforts to have sesame added to the list of eight allergens recognized by FALCPA, currently peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish.  We urge the FDA to also consider adding mustard and corn to the list as these are also major allergens that concern many families coping with food allergy.

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homawoodrumWe often receive questions regarding sesame labeling. Sesame is not considered an allergen under current FALCPA regulations and so is often hidden as “natural flavoring” on the ingredient label.

Considering how lax US label disclosures of the FDA’s “Top 8″ allergens can be, those with sesame allergies have a much harder time finding foods that are safe for their dietary restrictions. And if feedback from our blog is any indication, the incidence of sesame allergy is skyrocketing.

Lobbying congress to modernize food labeling regulations is a long, involved process. Homa Woodrum, attorney, blogger, co-founder of the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference,  and mom to a daughter with numerous food allergies, wrote about her recent excursion to Washington DC as part of the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s campaign to require manufacturers to label for sesame as they do for the Top-8 allergens.

Her posting provides a wonderful day-in-the-life recount of an advocate fighting the good fight for changes to benefit the allergic community. If you ever wondered how the process works or considered joining the efforts currently underway to promote a more comprehensive allergen labeling regime, Homa’s article is well worth the read.

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One question we often field generally reads something like this:

Dear SnackSafely.com:

This product has a statement that says “Contains: Wheat” but doesn’t mention anything about the peanut oil listed as an ingredient! If I wasn’t such a careful label reader I would have missed it entirely! Should I report them?

Signed,
Irate in Indiana

To answer questions like Irate’s, we need to take a close look at a clause in Section 203 of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 – often referred to as FALCPA, the law that mandates how food products must be labeled with regard to allergens.

Here’s the clause in question (with the emphasis ours):

The term `major food allergen’ means any of the following:

(1) Milk, egg, fish (e.g., bass, flounder, or cod), Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, or shrimp), tree nuts (e.g., almonds, pecans, or walnuts), wheat, peanuts, and soybeans.

(2) A food ingredient that contains protein derived from a food specified in paragraph (1), except the following:

(A) Any highly refined oil derived from a food specified in paragraph (1) and any ingredient derived from such highly refined oil.

(B) A food ingredient that is exempt under paragraph (6) or (7) of section 403(w).”.

So highly refined oils are exempt from the allergen labeling regulations mandated by FALCPA.

VioletWell, we know the Dowager Countess of Grantham (our favorite character from Downton Abbey) is highly refined, but what exactly are highly refined oils and why are they treated differently from the foods from which they are derived?

In a nutshell, highly refined oils are edible oils “resulting from a process that involves de-gumming, neutralizing, bleaching, and deodorizing the oils extracted from plant-based starting materials such as soybeans and peanuts.”

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The label… although it provides important nutritional data, it’s wholly unreliable as a source of potential allergen information due to lax, ineffectual FALCPA labeling guidelines.

Complete disclosure of the potential for allergen cross-contact is a necessity for the millions of Americans suffering with food allergies and celiac disease. But in light of FALCPA’s shortcomings, assembling that kind of information means ignoring the label, rolling up our sleeves, and working directly with responsible manufacturers who are as concerned for the food allergy community as we are.

That’s why we established the SnackSafely.com Manufacturer PartnershipWe’ve assembled more than 40 manufacturers that provide us with detailed information regarding the processing of 11 allergens and 4 industry recognized certifications, and we provide that information to you in turn via Allergence, a free service.

Here’s an example listing of a peanut butter alternative from Don’t Go Nuts, one of our featured partners:

Allergence-Sample

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FDA Logo

Earlier this week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a consumer update entitled “Finding Food Allergens Where They Shouldn’t Be“, a must read if you have food allergies or care for someone who does. (Click here to see the publication.)

The update warns that “undeclared allergens” – allergens that are not listed on the label as an ingredient but should be – are the leading cause of food recalls initiated by the FDA.

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schoolbus

As the start of the school year approaches, we receive many inquiries about the Safe Snack Guide from parents, teachers, school nurses and PTA organizations as they search for solutions to help implement nut-free classroom policies.

Here follows a collection of the most frequently asked questions complete with answers.

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reeses-oreoOn June 9, a limited edition Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Oreo is scheduled to hit the shelves of a store near you. Many of you contacted us with concerns about how (and where) these cookies are made, especially as they relate to the varieties of Oreos that are listed in the Safe Snack Guide.

As Mondelēz is not (yet) a member of our Manufacturer Partnership Program, we went through their traditional consumer channel and were greeted with the standard “Check the label – we label for possible peanut/tree nut cross contamination.” Once we explained that SnackSafely.com represents tens of thousands of consumers with food allergies, our request for more information was escalated through internal channels.

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Pretzel!Please note that we have removed a number of products from the Safe Snack Guide:

  • Shoprite ABC Cookie Squares – removed due to changes in manufacture/labeling/disclosure.
  • Righteously Raw Products – removed due to change in disclosure: manufactured on lines where coconut is also processed.

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Manufacturers Join SnackSafely.com in Drive for Greater Transparency in Food Allergen Disclosures

Tootsie Roll Industries, Enjoy Life Foods among 20 manufacturers to join program’s launch

New York, NY (PRWEB) February 11, 2014

PR QuoteThe publisher of the Safe Snack Guide, a snack list used by thousands of schools, camps, youth sports leagues, and scouting groups nationwide to help implement nut-free policies, is now working directly with food manufacturers to provide greater transparency regarding the potential for allergens in their products.

Manufacturers participating in the SnackSafely.com program access a proprietary portal to submit information about their products, including processing information for 11 allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish (the “top 8”) as well as sesame, mustard, and gluten.

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2nd Anniversary!

As we head into Autumn and the leaves begin to fall, we at SnackSafely.com are celebrating a pair of wonderful milestones that you, our readers, have made possible.

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