Food Allergy Facts and Management

Food allergy management for manufacturers goes beyond the legally required statement of a top eight allergen. Consider this situation:

A food company produces its products in two plants. Plant A produces only chocolate bars, while Plant B also produces snack cakes. Chocolate bars from Plant A do not have allergen labeling. Chocolate bars from Plant B include this statement: “This product may contain trace amounts of wheat and soy.”

Consumers are concerned about the label differences, so the company adds the allergy statement to the Plant A chocolate bars even though it was unnecessary. Now a consumer who’s allergic to wheat and soy picks up her favorite candy bar and sees an allergen statement.

Since she’s eaten the product before without a problem, should she eat this one? Or, does she not take the risk, and the company loses her business? If she does eat it without a problem, what’s the risk of ignoring similar labeling on other products?

Decisions about the most commonly allergenic foods can have long-lasting positive or negative consequences for your operation. The good news is that you can please both the 90 percent of Americans who don’t have a food allergy and those who do by learning the basics, following best practices and staying informed. Peanuts are often in the food allergy spotlight, but less than 1 percent of the population has a peanut allergy. Severe reactions can occur with any food, and all food allergic consumers deserve to have their allergy taken seriously.

The Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) is an excellent resource for manufacturers. For additional information, visit the Food Allergy section of our website.

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