New Food Labeling Allergy Law Starts Jan 2006
But the new law is causing confusion, too. It requires allergens to be identified even if they are present only in a tiny amount as ingredients -- an issue the federal Food and Drug Administration hasn't clarified. As many food makers rush to comply by listing every possible allergy-causing substance, consumers who pore over labels are noticing some surprising substances on ingredient lists -- like a clear beef broth that contains milk or a canned tuna that contains soy. What they don't know is whether those amounts are significant enough to trigger an allergic reaction. "The law just says you label everything," says Steve L. Taylor, a University of Nebraska food-science and technology professor. But he argues that unless the FDA offers further guidance on issues such as allergens that exist in small amounts, "consumers will get more information than what they can deal with."
The law -- the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act -- requires food labels to list in "plain language" whether they contain any of the eight major allergens: tree nuts (including almonds, walnuts, and pecans), milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, soybeans and wheat. Labels must either use parentheses to clarify that, for instance, "whey" or "casein" is a milk product, or they must note at the end of the ingredients list that the product "contains" an allergen. For most products, it's an obvious call. But some foods might contain tiny amounts of an allergen -- say, as an ingredient of the flavoring…….http://online.wsj.com/article_print/...029967218.html (subscription site)