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, 2006. "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, http://www.foodallergy.org. "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 information." 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 http://www.foodallergy.org 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