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Article of Interest - Food Allergies

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Bridges4Kids LogoSubcommittee on Health Unanimously Passes Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) to Simplify and Mandate Food Allergen Labeling by 2006
Food Allergy Initiative, June 15, 2004
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The Food Allergy Initiative celebrates a major milestone in its public policy program and applauds the House Subcommittee on Health for unanimously passing the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, the bill originally authored by U.S. Representatives Nita Lowey and James Greenwood and U.S. Senators Edward Kennedy and Judd Gregg. The bill requires food manufacturers to clearly state if a product contains the eight major food allergens that are responsible for over 90% of all allergic reactions which are: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy.


Rep. Lowey explains, "Foods that are safe for most Americans can be deadly for others. Food-allergic consumers depend on food labels to make life-and-death decisions, yet they are forced to crack a code of complicated scientific terms for every food product they eat. It's time for Congress to end this dangerous game by passing my bill to require everyday language and complete food ingredient lists."

Recent studies estimate that 1 of every 15 Americans -- over 7 million Americans -- has a food allergy and the number of children with peanut allergy has doubled in the past five years. Each year, over 250 Americans die due to the ingestion of allergenic foods and 30,000 receive life-saving treatment in emergency rooms.

The only way for someone with food allergies to keep from having a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction is to completely avoid foods and products that contain the allergens. Food-allergic consumers are forced to decipher labels for every food product they purchase, every time they shop -- a tedious and terrifying process. Unfortunately, their lives are made even more difficult because ingredient statements are written for scientists, not consumers.

A recent study at Mount Sinai School of Medicine demonstrated that after reading a series of labels only 7% of parents of children with milk allergy were able to correctly identify products that contained milk and 22% of parents of children with soy allergy were able to correctly identify products that contain soy. This is because over thirty different terms refer to milk (i.e., whey, casein) and over fourteen terms refer to soy (i.e., miso or textured vegetable protein). In addition, food manufacturers are not required to declare if any allergens were used in the natural or artificial flavorings, additives, and colorings.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act would allow food-allergic consumers to more easily identify a product's ingredients, protect themselves from foods that would harm them, and stay healthy. "There is currently no cure for food allergies," explains Todd J. Slotkin, Chairman of the Food Allergy Initiative and father of twins with life-threatening food allergies. "If enacted, this bill is the first line of defense in the prevention of deaths and/or serious illness from reactions to foods. We thank the federal legislators for the years of hard work and cooperative bipartisan effort to help the millions of Americans who live in fear of eating the wrong food with every bite they take."

In addition, the bill will also help the celiac disease community because the bill calls for the Food and Drug Administration to issue final regulations defining "gluten-free" by 2006. Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that is triggered by eating the protein gluten, which is found in grains, including what, rye, barley, and possibly oats.

About the Food Allergy Initiative

The Food Allergy Initiative (FAI) is a New York-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting research to find a cure for life-threatening food allergies. In addition to funding research and clinical activities to identify and treat those at risk, FAI supports public policy initiatives to create a safer environment for those afflicted, and educational programs to heighten awareness among health and child care workers, schools, camps, and members of the hospitality and food service industries about food allergies and the danger of anaphylaxis. For more information, please visit the FAI website at http://www.FoodAllergyInitiative.org or call 212-527-5835.

    

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