I came across this short little article from the Mayo Clinic about food labeling, and thought it would make a good blog post. It is a concise and informative blurb on how food manufacturers are required to label… and what they aren’t required to label. I highly recommend that everyone read it – even if you do not have food allergies/intolerances, it is helpful information. You probably know someone with a food allergy. Plus, I also think it’s important to know what is in your food.
My two cents…
I think the most important part of the article are these statements:
“Manufacturers aren’t required to include warnings about food allergens accidentally introduced during manufacturing or packaging (cross-contamination). This common occurrence can cause trouble if you’re very sensitive to food allergens.”
It is SO DIFFICULT to really know what MIGHT be in a food. Basically, food manufacturers are required to label what is actually in their food (i.e., an ingredient in their recipe), but they ARE NOT REQUIRED to label their food for cross-contamination. For my son, who has a severe peanut allergy, we cannot risk cross-contamination; it would affect him. So, we read labels very carefully, but even still we don’t always know what is in his food and it makes me uncomfortable. We have moved to making most of our food ourselves (which is no small feat) for various reasons, but mostly so that I know what is in our food.
The article also cites this:
“Many manufacturers voluntarily include warnings, but these advisory labels aren’t always clear. And, manufacturers have different ways of saying a food allergen may be present. For example, labels may say “manufactured in a factory that also processes wheat” or “may contain soy.” The FDA is working to make the format of these advisory labels more consistent so that it’s easier to identify which products contain allergens.”
But, they don’t do it yet. That is what is so hard for us (and many others who deal with food allergies). Manufacturers are not required to label if there is a cross-contamination risk. Personally, we really appreciate the companies who do disclose the contamination risk, and we definitely support those companies as much as possible in our grocery shopping. Personally, I appreciate when companies put the possibility of a cross-contamination risk as well as if there is no risk of cross-contamination. It is helpful information, and we look forward to improvements in our food labeling system!