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Food Labeling – Allergens

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In 2004 the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) was enacted to address the labeling of foods that contain certain food allergens. As of January 1, 2006 all packaged foods regulated under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must comply with FALCPA’s food allergen labeling requirements. Note: foods regulated under the USDA are not required to follow the FALCPA’s requirements.

FALCPA defines eight major foods or food groups that account for 90 percent of all food allergies. Allergen identification is required if a food product contains an ingredient or protein derived from any of the following eight allergens.

    milk
    egg
    wheat
    peanuts
    soybeans
    tree nuts
    fish
    Crustacean shellfish

Three of the eight allergens are food groups (tree nuts, fish and Crustacean shellfish) and require further specification. Tree nuts must be declared by the type of nut, such as almonds, walnuts or pecans. Fish and Crustacean shellfish must declare the species. For example, fish might be declared as salmon, halibut or cod and Crustacean shellfish might be declared as shrimp, lobster or crab.

When declaring an allergen it is acceptable to list the allergen in either singular or plural form (i.e. “walnut” and “walnuts” are both correct). Soybeans can be identified as “soybean,” “soy” or “soya.”

The eight major food allergens can be identified in either the ingredient statement or in a “Contains” statement. Either statement must clearly identify all allergens present in the food product. Allergens must be identified on allergen-containing ingredients where the food source is not apparent. For example, on ingredients like “modified food starch” (if it comes from a wheat source) or “whey” the allergens to be declared are “wheat” and “milk.”

Below are two examples of how to properly identify allergens.

Ingredients: Peanut butter (peanuts, salt), oats, sugar, soybean oil, whey (milk).

Ingredients: Peanut butter (peanuts, salt), oats, sugar, soybean oil, whey.
Contains: Peanuts, soybeans and milk.

For more information on allergen identification please contact us.

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