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
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,
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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