Food Allergy Label Confusion Can Be Dangerous for Those at Risk

Misunderstanding warnings could be dangerous for those with food allergies
Misunderstanding warnings could be dangerous for those with food allergies

HealthDay News — Shoppers are often confused by food labels that warn of potential allergens, and the consequences can be serious, according to research published online November 1 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, and colleagues conducted an online survey of 6,684 respondents in the United States and Canada. Those answering the questions either had a food allergy, had someone in the family who did, or they were a parent or caregiver of someone with a food allergy and bought food for that person.

The researchers found that about half (46%) of the survey respondents thought precautionary labels are required by law. One-third (37%) thought such labels were based on the amounts of an allergen that might be present in a food product. Forty percent of shoppers dealing with food allergies bought products with precautionary labels.

Precautionary labels can state that either a product "may contain" a specific allergen or a food is "manufactured in a facility" that has products containing a specific allergen. The two labels are equally dangerous, Gupta told HealthDay. The amount of allergen required to trigger a reaction varies from person to person, so it's impossible to know if a product that says "may contain" a specific allergen will prove dangerous or not, she said.

More Information

Loading links....