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Beware If You Have Food Allergies!

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If you, or someone you love, has food allergies, you need to know that the FDA is not protecting you from exposure to allergens in processed and packaged foods!

Recently, the FDA stated it may simply allow food companies to ignore small amounts of allergen contamination when designing food safety programs to address allergen risks.  The FDA leaves it up to the food companies to decide what these thresholds might be and how to ensure that consumers are not put at too much risk by the contamination.  As a result, you need to use your own judgment regarding who you trust and to understand the risk involved when you or your children are consuming packaged and processed foods.  Labeling may not be helpful or honest. There really isn’t a comprehensive system to define what allergen labels like “may contain” really mean. 

Companies, looking for solid profit margins, are reluctant to prevent cross contamination because of the costs involved to ensure it, such as having another set of equipment.  Worse yet, some food companies are leveraging a loophole and adding some allergens to the recipes to all their foods to avoid having to prevent cross contamination.

One in ten people in the US have food allergies.  Forty percent of children with food allergies are allergic to more than one food. Allergic reactions to foods usually occur within minutes or at most, a couple of hours, after eating a food allergen.  Common symptoms include flushed skin, rash, hives, tingling or itchy sensations in the mouth, face, tongue, or lip swelling. Also, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal cramps, coughing, wheezing, dizziness, lightheadedness, swelling of the throat and vocal cords, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness are possible.  Food allergies are different than food sensitivities.  With food sensitivities, there’s no potential for anaphylaxis, and reactions usually manifest 3 to 7 days following ingestion. Furthermore, food sensitivities can result in a wide variety of symptoms. 

The official nine ingredients which account for at least 90% of allergic reactions in the US are eggs, soy, milk, wheat, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and sesame. 

 If you are interested in taking action, you can look at the FDA’s recent draft guidance, titled “Chapter 11: Food Allergy Program of the Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food: Draft Guidance for Industry“.

Here is just one more good reason to eat real whole food, shop the perimeter of the grocery store, grow your own food, go to farmers markets, and buy certified organic, non-GMO foods. For allergy or food sensitivity testing, discuss with a medical provider here at TWIHW.

Steer clear, stay well.

Reference: Crezo, Adrienne. CSPI News: “Have a food allergy? What to know about FDA’s new guidance”. March 20, 2024.

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