The act of manufactures labeling of our foods products in terms of the ingredients a particular product contains and the nutritious facts is sometimes taken for granted, we often see the labels on our food products, but ignore them because we’re so used to seeing them in our daily lives. Surprisingly, food product labeling, specifically that pertaining to allergen warnings, were not always available to consumers until a government mandate in 2004 (FALCPA). I think part of the reason for such a lateness in regulation was due to a social stigma regarding allergies, that having them was some sort of natural selection and not an issue that should be taken care of. Another surprising notion I came across was that although there was no government regulation, manufactures of food products took a good amount of initiative in letting their consumers know of potential allergens in their products.
While conducting my research, I found it pretty alarming that allergy labeling on products wasn’t mandated by the government until ten years ago. If allergens were not required to be clearly labeled on the products we consume, people with nut or gluten allergies for example, would have extreme difficulty in purchasing food products. Studies show that around 30,000 people require emergency room care in the United States due to allergy related incidents and around 150 deaths occur as a result of allergic reactions to food, in addition, approximately 2% of adults in the US and 5% of children have food allergies. Judging by these allergy demographics, it’s safe to assume that if allergen labeling was not mandated for consumer products, we’d see a tremendous amount of hospital treatment and deaths in the US and all over the world.
Although there haven’t been many scientific advances in preventing allergy hazards besides the advancement of fast treatments such as EPI Pens, there have been a large number of food establishments like restaurants and cafeterias that have taken measures to protect individuals with food allergies. These preventive measures include gluten free sections in school cafeterias where a specific area is designated for kids with certain allergies and warnings in places where nuts are served to urge non-allergic consumers to be cautions when entering the public environment with the nut products.
Furthermore, even though there has been a good amount of action taken on the part of the government, there is still some ambiguity of allergy labels on food. Consumers are often confused by the phrase, “may contain” which is often used by certain manufactures. There is no government regulation that manufactures must indicate whether a specific allergen is in their product, because sometimes a product contains so many ingredients that the allergen may or may not be present depending on the time the batch was made.
As of 2004, the government/FDA mandated that food products containing common allergens be clearly labeled on the packaging, this is known as...