Thursday, November 13, 2008

Allergen Labeling - Open Comment Period

I was reading on the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) that there is currently an open comment period for The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA).

The FAAN website has a lot of information about this law, what it does and does not do. My attempt to summarize it is to say that it requires plain notice of whether a packaged item contains one of the top 8 allergens. What is does not require is what is known as "advisory labeling" which indicates whether the product was made in a shared facility or on shared equipment. This is important information for the food allergic because even trace amounts of an allergen (which could result from being processed on shared equipment or in a shared facility) can cause a severe reaction in some people.

FAAN says:
On September 16, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a public hearing on the use of advisory (“May Contain”) labeling on packaged food items. FDA has begun to develop a long-term strategy to help manufacturers use these statements in a clear and consistent manner, so that food-allergic consumers and their caregivers can be adequately informed as to the potential presence of major allergens.

Even though the hearing is over, the FDA is still accepting comments on this issue, so if you have an opinion, please share it with them.

FAAN has a FAQ section regarding this law and in this, state:

Will products after January 2006 have to label if the product is made on the same lines as peanuts or other allergens or remove the need for “May Contain” statements?

No. FALCPA does not establish standards for the use of “May contain ” or other advisory labeling statements or address the use of shared lines. FALCPA does, however, require the FDA to issue a report to Congress on this issue.

So if I'm understanding this correctly, the comments being solicited now will become a part of a report to determine whether and what action should be taken on the issue of advisory labeling.

FAAN notes:
FDA will be accepting written public comments on this issue until January 14, 2009. If you’d like to send comments to the FDA on this important issue, send an email to for instructions.

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