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Article of Interest - Food Allergies

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Bridges4Kids LogoFood Labels To List Allergens
by Janet Rausa Fuller, Chicago Sun Times, July 22, 2004
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Bryan Bunning was 6 months old when his mom stopped nursing and gave him his first bottle of formula.

"He had one sip, and he literally blew up in front of my face," Denise Bunning, 37, of Lake Forest, said of her son's swollen body.

Bunning didn't know at the time that her son was having a life-threatening allergic reaction to the milk-based formula.

After years of scrutinizing food labels, Bunning can now rattle off the various scientific terms for milk, eggs and nuts, as can her sons, Bryan, now 10, and 7-year-old Daniel, both of whom have food allergies.

New legislation promises to make life easier for the Bunnings and about 11 million other Americans with food allergies.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed late Tuesday and awaits President Bush's signature, will require food makers to identify on labels, in plain language, whether a food product contains any of the eight main food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans.

The FDA requires that food makers list every ingredient in a product, but often scientific terms are used on labels, making it unclear for someone with food allergies.

Under the new bill, a product containing the milk protein casein, for example, must clearly list the word "milk" on the label in addition to "casein."

"This is so fantastic for us because now I can pick up a package and I can determine, is this safe, is this not safe," said Bunning, who co-founded the Chicago area support group Mothers of Children Having Allergies. The bill also requires labels to list any food allergens in spices, flavorings and additives and calls for the Department of Health and Human Services to define "gluten-free" and how the term will be used on food labels.

    

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