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Why Obvious Allergy Labels Are Useful

December 14, 2011

It used to be that when I read the ingredients on peanut butter, when I came to the line “Contains: peanuts” I would say “Well, duh! It’s in the name.” Recently, my brother-in-law read the ingredients on his daughter’s bottle of milk. “Contains: milk. Well, I should certainly hope so!” These warnings seemed to be as dumb as warning that food will be hot after cooking.

Then I learned of my son’s food allergies and the law behind the allergy labeling. There are 8 allergens that account for 90 percent of allergies (wheat, eggs, milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustaceans), and these foods can take many forms with different names. For example: casein, galactose, ghee, protein hydrolysate, lactalbumin, and recaldent are all forms of milk. So, the law states that if a food contains one of the top 8 allergens as an ingredient, it must be clearly marked in the ingredients label as such (instead of hiding behind one of its other forms) or it must have the “Contains” line.

Then I became grateful for the obvious allergy labeling. The presence of the obvious “contains” line means that because the other allergens were not listed, they were not in there. So people allergic to milk could know that they could safely eat the peanut butter.

One caveat to this is that Joseph reacts to foods that are not subject to this law. Gluten often hides in the “natural flavoring” or “spices” ingredient. Also, doctors believe that soy lecithin and soybean oil contain too few protein to be subject to this law, so they are exempt. Joseph reacts to both, so I have to read labels carefully, even with the “Contains” line.

What are your experiences with this law?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2011 6:06 am

    I notice it most when I go out to eat. Especially just after I was diagnosed and didn’t know all the tricks of reading between the lines of an ingredient. For example, mashed potatoes and gravy seemed like a pretty safe dish to order, but not so. Since my family always used cornstarch to thicken gravies, etc. I had no idea that most people (and restaurants) use flour as their primary thickener. Boy was I one tummy sick puppy until I caught on.

    • December 14, 2011 8:06 am

      Thanks for sharing. Eating out with allergies is really hard.

  2. December 14, 2011 1:15 pm

    We are in the same boat. Corn, soy, gluten and many other allergies can really disguise themselves by so many names. I’m thankful my son doesn’t have life threatening allergies, but we still avoid so many foods as they trigger severe eczema.

    I’ve started a blog hop for anyone dealing with allergies, eczema, or asthma, either for themselves or as a caregiver. If you’re interested in joining, please add a comment. I’d love to welcome you to the group.


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