Informing consumers about food allergens in products with simple, easy-to-understand language can limit unexpected allergic reactions, especially in children, according to GMA Director of Scientific and Nutrition Policy, Lisa Katic, R.D.

"Current regulations for product labels require the use of scientific terms: albumin for eggs or whey instead of milk. These terms can be confusing for adults, let alone children," said Katic. "The new guidelines we are outlining today will bring some clarity to confusion and help parents and children with food allergies avoid products that may trigger a reaction."

Katic presented the new labeling guidelines at a Food Allergy Issues Alliance press conference today. The alliance is a group of food trade associations, consumer groups and other interested organizations that convene to address allergy-related issues.

Major points covered by the food allergen labeling guidelines include;

  • Identification of the eight major food allergens;
  • Using simple, easy-to-understand terms for allergens and consistently placing that information within, or in immediate proximity to, the ingredient panel;
  • Disclosure of the presence of major food allergens when they are an intentional part of the food. Thus, allergens would be disclosed regardless of the fact they may currently be exempted from declaration (e.g., as part of a flavor, or as an incidental additive or processing aid); and
  • Establish guidelines for conditions when the use of supplemental allergen statements ("may contain" labeling) is appropriate.

"These guidelines are the result of careful and thoughtful effort by industry and consumer groups," said Katic. "These guidelines offer flexibility for manufacturers while protecting the health of those who suffer from food allergies."

The allergy labeling guidelines are available at http://www.gmabrands.com.

GMA is the world's largest association of food, beverage and consumer product companies. With U.S. sales of more than $460 billion, GMA members employ more than 2.5 million workers in all 50 states. The organization applies legal, scientific and political expertise from its member companies to vital food, nutrition and public policy issues affecting the industry. Led by a board of 44 Chief Executive Officers, GMA speaks for food and consumer product manufacturers at the state, federal and international levels on legislative and regulatory issues. The association also leads efforts to increase productivity, efficiency and growth in the food, beverage and consumer products industry.