Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) Awaits President Bush's Signature

Bill Passed by the House Will Simplify and Mandate Food Allergen

Labeling by 2006 Benefiting Millions of Americans

Jul 20, 2004, 01:00 ET from The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

    FAIRFAX, Va., July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- New food labeling legislation,
 passed by the House today, is another positive step forward in providing
 clear, consistent and reliable ingredient label information -- an essential
 first line of defense for the millions of Americans who have food allergies,
 according to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).  The new labeling
 bill will ensure that all allergens are disclosed and the ingredient terms are
 understandable to the average consumer and not just scientists.
     The bill is referred to as The Food Allergen and Consumer Protection Act
 (FALCPA) -- and is included as Title II of Senate Bill 741.  FALCPA now awaits
 sign-off by President George W. Bush.  It would then take effect January 1,
     "Consumers who have food allergies must read the ingredient label and
 avoid the food to which they are allergic.  There is no cure. Their health and
 safety depends on their ability to understand the information and know there
 are no 'hidden' or 'undeclared' allergens in the product," said Anne Munoz-
 Furlong, CEO & Founder of FAAN, a patient advocacy group,  "This legislation will make that task easier for
 the 11 million Americans who have food allergies and their family and friends
 who are reading labels on their behalf."
     The legislation would require that food manufacturers identify, in plain,
 common language, the presence of any of the eight major food allergens (milk,
 egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy).
     FALCPA would also require food labels to indicate the presence of major
 food allergens used in spices, flavorings, additives, and colorings, which had
 previously been exempt from allergen labeling.  This closes a loophole that
 puts people at risk from "hidden" or undeclared ingredients.
     FALCPA would also call on the federal government to improve the collection
 of food allergy data; convene a panel of experts to review food allergy
 research efforts; report to Congress on the number of allergen inspections
 done of food manufacturing facilities over a two-year period, and the ways in
 which these facilities can reduce or eliminate cross-contact; consider
 revisions of the Food Code to provide allergen-free preparation guidelines for
 restaurants and food service establishment; and investigate consumer
 preference pertaining to advisory food labeling such as precautionary "May
 Contain" statements.
     "Foods that are safe for most Americans can be deadly for others.  Food-
 allergic consumers depend on labels to make life-and-death decisions, yet they
 are forced to crack a code of complicated scientific terms for everything they
 eat," said Congresswoman Nita Lowey.  "This legislation will end this
 dangerous game by requiring complete ingredient lists and language written for
 everyone, not just scientists.  The House's action today is a major victory
 for food allergic Americans and everyone who seeks clearer food allergy
     FALCPA is the result of years of hard work and a cooperative effort
 involving the food industry, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), FAAN,
 other consumer advocacy groups, concerned families nationwide, and bi-partisan
 efforts by federal legislators such as Senators Judd Greg (R-NH) and Edward
 Kennedy (D-MA), Representative Joe Barton (R-TX), Chair of the House Committee
 on Energy and Commerce Representative Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Chair of the
 House Subcommittee of Health, Representative Jim Greenwood (R-PA) and
 Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), the initial author of the legislation.
     "Food allergy is a public health and food safety concern," said Munoz-
 Furlong.  "Consumers with food allergies have been confused by technical
 ingredient terms such as caseinate or albumin for milk and egg for far too
 long.  By 2006, it is our hope to have a practical, common-sense solution and
 labels that even a 7-year old can read and understand."
     About FAAN
     The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is a Virginia-based,
 nonprofit organization with more than 26,000 members in the United States and
 worldwide.  Established in 1991, FAAN's mission is to increase awareness, to
 provide education and advocacy and to advance research on behalf of all those
 affected by food allergies and anaphylaxis.  For more information, visit the
 FAAN Web site at or call 800-929-4040.  Contact the
 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology or the American College of
 Allergy, Asthma & Immunology to reach a board-certified allergist.

SOURCE The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network