The Scoop on Food Allergen Warning Labels

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by Patrice on January 26, 2011 · 2 comments

in Allergies


When kids have food allergies, the single mom spends a lot of her valuable time checking the nutrition and ingredient labels of the food before she purchases it. Sometimes products, especially pre-packaged prepared food that a mom would never dream could have an ingredient that could cause an allergic reaction in her child has been prepared in a surprising way.

In light of this, it is surprising to know that many people don’t pay attention to the statements on the warning label that explain what other foods are processed in the same facility as the one they are about to purchase.

It’s even more surprising to know that the labels on the food indicating a possible allergen contamination may not always be accurate.

Smaller processing plants often process a variety of foods and use the same equipment for each type. According to a study funded by the Food Allergy Initiative, the smaller food processing plants often do not have the same efficient cleaning methods of their larger counterparts. In fact, the chances of allergens in a food processed in a smaller plant are seven times higher than if they have been processed at a large facility. The Food Allergy Initiative is partially funded by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

If a food is not expected to have a certain ingredient in it, there aren’t any warning label requirements. However, when researchers studied a variety of products that are available on the store shelves, they found that 228 of 401 products chosen had warning labels. When the products were tested for contamination, it was found that there were traces of allergens in 5% of the food that had warning labels on the package. Traces of allergens were found in 2% of the foods without warning labels.

The allergens tested for were peanuts, eggs and milk, the most common food allergies in children.

When a child is diagnosed as having a food allergy, a guideline as to how much of the food is safe is usually not available. Read all food allergen warning labels.  The best medical advice is to stay away from the allergen completely, and that means avoiding foods that have be processed in a facility that also processes a food that your child is allergic to.

The safest thing a single mom who has a child who has a food allergy can do is just leave the food with any type of an allergen warning label on the shelf.

About Patrice

Patrice Campbell is a freelance writer working from the Denver area. Campbell started her writing career in the 1980’s, working for several Wisconsin local papers as a news, human interest and features writer, as well as a photographer.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Queenie April 3, 2011 at 9:43 am

I have read about this medical allergy awareness in one of the site that I have searched. It is said that it is important to stress out and let your kid know about his medical condition of having allergy. If he is severely allergic to peanuts and is playing at a friend’s house, he may accidentally ingest an allergen, say a cookie with peanut bits that could cause a severe reaction. I have read an article once that if he requires medical attention and you’re not present, he’ll be able to inform medical personnel what medications he’s allergic to. Make him wear an alert bracelet if he has a potentially life threatening condition or allergy. You can suggest also to his physician to prepare an “allergy ID card” placed in his bag or pocket so others can easily pull it out in case of emergency.


Savannah April 5, 2011 at 8:48 am

I had horrible allergies when I was little, and it always made me angry that just because another kid was eating something at lunch, I couldn’t be at their table, or that I couldn’t have the snacks that everyone else got. The only thing that kept me from defying the rules was how big a deal my parents made out of it – I knew it would be bad if I didn’t listen!


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