The FDA Food and Drug Administration started with labeling on foods to help people with food allergies be aware what is in the product.
To help Americans avoid the health risks posed by food allergens, Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and consumer Protection Act of 2004. The law applies to all foods whose labeling is regulated by FDA, both domestic and imported. (FDA regulates the labeling of all foods, except for poultry, most meats, certain egg products, and most alcoholic beverages.)
- Before FALCPA, the labels of foods made from two or more ingredients were required to list all ingredients by their common or usual names. The names of some ingredients, however, do not clearly identify their food source.
- Now, the law requires that labels must clearly identify the food source names of all ingredients that are — or contain any protein derived from —the eight most common food allergens, which FALCPA defines as “major food allergens.”
As a result, food labels help allergic consumers to identify offending foods or ingredients so they can more easily avoid them.
About Foods Labeled Before January 1, 2006
FALCPA did not require relabeling of food products labeled before January 1, 2006, which were made with a major food allergen that did not identify its food source name in the ingredient list. Although it is unlikely that any of these foods are still on store shelves, always use special care to read the complete ingredient list on food labels when you go shopping.
Food Allergen “Advisory” Labeling
FALCPA’s labeling requirements do not apply to the potential or unintentional presence of major food allergens in foods resulting from “cross-contact” situations during manufacturing, because of shared equipment or processing lines. In the context of food allergens, “cross-contact” occurs when a residue or trace amount of an allergenic food becomes incorporated into another food not intended to contain it. FDA guidance for the food industry states that food allergen advisory statements, “may contain [allergen]” or “produced in a facility that also uses [allergen]” should not be used as a substitute for adhering to current good manufacturing practices and must be truthful and not misleading. FDA is considering ways to best manage the use of these types of statements by manufacturers to better inform consumers.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2016, from http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079311.htm