Currently viewing the tag: "major food allergens"

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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SSG-UpdateWe are pleased to announce a number of new products from two members of our Manufacturer Partnership, but before we do, here’s a few changes we made to better accommodate them.

First, we added a new category: Health Foods and Supplements. While it’s true that many partner products are organic, non-GMO and might be considered health foods, this category is reserved for specific products the average consumer might consider “nutrition boosters”. (Though many of them are also used as basic cooking and baking ingredients.)

Second, we made a change to the Safe Snack Guide to match how we group products in Allergence, our product screening service: we split Baking Chocolate and Chocolate Chips into a separate category from Baking/Flours/Mixes to make it a bit easier to find the products you’re looking for.

On to the new products:

RED Logo 73x73Red Plate Foods, a family owned business located in Oregon known for their delicious Top-8 free vegan cookies and muffins, has introduced a new line of nut-free (worry-free) granolas. Click here to learn more about Red Plate Foods and their products. [The owner of Red Plate Foods, Becca Williams, recently contributed a wonderful article explaining what you can do to encourage your local market to stock more Free From products entitled: “Editorial: Food Allergy Shoppers, Speak Up!“]

Logo GYO 73x73Giddy Yoyo, a company based in Ontario specializing in raw, organic, nutrient dense foods, has extended their line of organic chocolate and cacao products and added a number of health foods and supplements, including frozen organic wheatgrass juice and spirulina powder. Click here to learn more about Giddy Yoyo and their products.

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RedPlateBecca-e1434551833108Becca Williams, owner of Red Plate Foods – a valued member of our Manufacturer Partnership – has some advice for you.

Running a small start-up that makes delicious Top-8 allergen-free, vegan, GMO-free muffins, cookies, and now granola, Becca knows what she’s up against when trying to get her products into stores that cater to standard fare.

If you truly want to know what you can do to encourage more stores carry a greater variety of Free From products, read what she had to say on her own blog:

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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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Pretzel!We’re pleased to announce the addition of a new member to our Manufacturer Partnership Program whose products now appear in the Safe Snack Guide and Allergence, our product screening service.

Eleni's New YorkEleni’s New York specializes in beautiful hand-made, hand-iced sugar cookies baked from scratch in a dedicated peanut and tree nut-free facility. No conveyor belts, no automated decorating, no mass production, all done the old fashioned way, one cookie at a time.

The company also markets a line of Crisp cookies in a variety of flavors and Color Me! cookies that come complete with edible markers. (Click to learn more about Eleni’s and their products.)

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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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Pretzel!

We’re pleased to announce the addition of two new members to our Manufacturer Partnership Program whose products now appear in the Safe Snack Guide as well as Allergence:

  • popchips – The innovative popped snack company offers an extensive line of potato and veggie chips that are certified gluten-free, trans and saturated fat-free and free of preservatives and artificial ingredients. Several of the company’s products also recently received non-GMO verification and are manufactured in a facility free of seven of the top eight allergens.
  • Winona Pure – Winona Foods® of Green Bay markets a line of cooking oils under the Winona Pure® brand, all manufactured in a peanut, tree nut and sesame-free facility. Their specialized packaging allows them to offer Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Canola, Sunflower and Popcorn Butter flavored oils in a convenient spray without the need for chemical propellants or additives.

We issued a press release welcoming both national brands to the Manufacturer Partnership.

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patchIn positive news, DBV Technologies, a French firm developing skin patch therapies for various allergens, issued a press release announcing their Viaskin® Peanut patch has received “Breakthrough Therapy” (BT) designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

DBV describes Viaskin as “an electrostatic patch, based on Epicutaneous Immunotherapy, or EPIT®, which administers an allergen directly onto the superficial layers of the skin to activate the immune system by specifically targeting antigen-presenting cells without allowing passage of the antigen into the bloodstream.”

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bloodtest

Food challenge: where the patient consumes a food they may be allergic to while the medical staff hovers nearby, ready to inject epinephrine if the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction appear. Low-tech, dangerous, and the only reliable way to test how severely someone may react to an allergen. Until now.

A blood test resulting from a study led by researchers from The Mindich Child Health and Development Institute and the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute promises to predict which people will have severe allergic reactions to specific foods. The study was published yesterday in The Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology accompanied by a press release by Mount Sinai.

Current testing relies on skin pricks and blood tests that detect proteins called allergen-specific IgE produced by the immune system, though these cannot accurately predict the severity of reactions. The study reports that measuring another immune system component, the basophil, can accurately predict how a person will react to specific allergens. The basophil activation test (BAT) requires only a small amount of blood and provides quick results.

“While providing crucial information about their potential for a severe allergic reaction to a food, having blood drawn for BAT testing is a much more comfortable procedure than food challenges.” says first author Ying Song, MD. “Although food challenges are widely practiced, they carry the risk of severe allergic reactions, and we believe BAT testing will provide accurate information in a safer manner.”

Note that BAT testing is currently only approved for research study.

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Animals_Natural_Wallpapers_laba.ws

It’s spring time and that means it’s time for the Easter Edition of the Safe Snack Guide!

We’ve added a full page of Easter-themed goodies free of peanuts, tree nuts, and (in many cases) eggs. Some can be purchased at the corner market, others can be ordered on-line.

Once again, apologies to our readers who celebrate Passover. We are still searching for safe products that are nut-free and certified kosher for the holiday. If you know of any such products, please let us know.

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