Reading Labels on Food - Our Daily Green

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Reading Labels on Food

As educated consumers continue to try to know what exactly they are eating, label reading becomes more and more important. While a casual consumer may simply try to avoid dyes or high fructose corn syrup, knowing how to read labels may actually be a matter of life and death for an allergic consumer.

Our Daily Green has chronicled misuse of the word "natural" in the past, and a recent ruling from the  United States District Court actually ruled that product with ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin may continue to be labeled natural. The key for a consumer is to look past the big bold claims and again, read the fine print in the ingredients to know what they are really eating.

As Amy M. Salberg, The Real Food Lawyer explains in her recent blog post about the ruling,
The bottom line in all of this is that caveat emptor (buyer beware) is still the best way to protect yourself from false, misleading, and ambiguous claims made on food product labels. Shopping locally, and avoiding processed food, is another great way to ensure that what you are eating is truly “natural.”
According to Food Allergy Research and Education:
The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), which took effect January 1, 2006, mandates that the labels of foods containing major food allergens (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and soy) declare the allergen in plain language, either in the ingredient list or via:
  • the word “Contains” followed by the name of the major food allergen – for example, “Contains milk, wheat” – or
  • a parenthetical statement in the list of ingredients – for example, “albumin (egg)”
Such ingredients must be listed if they are present in any amount, even in colors, flavors, or spice blends. Additionally, manufacturers must list the specific nut (e.g., almond, walnut, cashew) or seafood (e.g., tuna, salmon, shrimp, lobster) that is used. Although FALCPA has made label reading easier for the millions of Americans living with food allergies, please continue to read all labels on all packages carefully.

Our Daily Green is affiliated with The Allergy Kit, a drug-free, at-home allergy treatment. 

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