Lowey's Bill Could Help Food-Allergic Consumers

Apr 30, 2001, 01:00 ET from The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

    FAIRFAX, Va., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) today
 announced her Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act, which addresses some of
 the current problems with food labels.  "We applaud Rep. Lowey for her efforts
 in attracting attention to this growing public health issue," says
 Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.
     Four recent studies show: more than half of the manufacturers did not
 confirm that the information on the ingredient statement matched the
 ingredients within that package; mislabeled products cause reactions;
 inaccurate labels have cost lives; and some labels are incomplete, confusing,
 or misleading.
     "Manufacturers have to remember," says Munoz-Furlong, "that food-allergic
 consumers make decisions that can affect their health based on the information
 on an ingredient statement."
     Food allergies are believed to cause 30,000 emergency room visits, and
 between 150 to 200 deaths each year.  Reactions occur because the individual
 ate something they thought was safe.
     An FDA study of 85 establishments in Wisconsin and Minnesota showed that
 more than half of the manufacturers did not confirm that the information on
 the ingredient statement matched the ingredients within that package.
     A study on manufacturing and labeling issues reviewed 221 calls from food
 allergic consumers over 24 months, more than half reported undeclared food
 allergens in products, a third caused reactions.
     In a study of 32 fatal reactions to food, at least one individual died
 because the cookies he ate had undeclared peanuts.
     Some labels are incomplete, confusing or misleading as reported in a
 survey conducted by FAAN of 760 families who are affected by food allergy.  Of
 particular concern were terms such as may contain and non-dairy -- they are at
 best confusing and at worst misleading.
     "Manufacturers must use Allergy statements such as 'May contain' as
 judiciously as possible, and not in place of good manufacturing practices,"
 warns Munoz-Furlong.  "The explosion in the number of products with 'may
 contain' has undermined the integrity of food labels, as doctors and patients
 begin to wonder if they really should avoid that product."
     Terms such as "Non dairy" on packages that contain "casein," a milk
 derivative, are misleading, and are the cause of allergic reactions to
 milk-allergic children whose parents expect that Non Dairy equals no milk.
     "When a doctor makes a diagnosis of food allergy, the patient is told to
 avoid, milk, or eggs, or wheat.  Current labels list these foods in a number
 of scientific or technical terms including caseinate, albumin, or semolina,"
 notes Munoz-Furlong.  "Labels should be written for consumers, not
 scientists."  As one FAAN member put it, "we are not chemists, and neither are
 Grandma and Grandpa."
     "While some manufacturers are doing the right thing on behalf of the
 food-allergic consumer, others are not.  All manufacturers must take food
 allergies seriously," adds Munoz-Furlong.
     The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is a Virginia-based,
 non-profit organization whose mission is: To increase public awareness about
 food allergy and anaphylaxis, to provide education, and to advance research on
 behalf of all those affected by food allergies.
     Founded in 1991, FAAN has over 23,000 members in the United States and
 around the world.  FAAN works with health professionals, medical and/or
 health-related associations, food manufacturers, government agencies,
 reporters, airlines, schools, restaurants, support groups, and individuals
 with food allergies and their families and friends.  For more information
 visit www.foodallergy.org
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X29903175
 
 

SOURCE The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
    FAIRFAX, Va., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) today
 announced her Food Allergen Consumer Protection Act, which addresses some of
 the current problems with food labels.  "We applaud Rep. Lowey for her efforts
 in attracting attention to this growing public health issue," says
 Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.
     Four recent studies show: more than half of the manufacturers did not
 confirm that the information on the ingredient statement matched the
 ingredients within that package; mislabeled products cause reactions;
 inaccurate labels have cost lives; and some labels are incomplete, confusing,
 or misleading.
     "Manufacturers have to remember," says Munoz-Furlong, "that food-allergic
 consumers make decisions that can affect their health based on the information
 on an ingredient statement."
     Food allergies are believed to cause 30,000 emergency room visits, and
 between 150 to 200 deaths each year.  Reactions occur because the individual
 ate something they thought was safe.
     An FDA study of 85 establishments in Wisconsin and Minnesota showed that
 more than half of the manufacturers did not confirm that the information on
 the ingredient statement matched the ingredients within that package.
     A study on manufacturing and labeling issues reviewed 221 calls from food
 allergic consumers over 24 months, more than half reported undeclared food
 allergens in products, a third caused reactions.
     In a study of 32 fatal reactions to food, at least one individual died
 because the cookies he ate had undeclared peanuts.
     Some labels are incomplete, confusing or misleading as reported in a
 survey conducted by FAAN of 760 families who are affected by food allergy.  Of
 particular concern were terms such as may contain and non-dairy -- they are at
 best confusing and at worst misleading.
     "Manufacturers must use Allergy statements such as 'May contain' as
 judiciously as possible, and not in place of good manufacturing practices,"
 warns Munoz-Furlong.  "The explosion in the number of products with 'may
 contain' has undermined the integrity of food labels, as doctors and patients
 begin to wonder if they really should avoid that product."
     Terms such as "Non dairy" on packages that contain "casein," a milk
 derivative, are misleading, and are the cause of allergic reactions to
 milk-allergic children whose parents expect that Non Dairy equals no milk.
     "When a doctor makes a diagnosis of food allergy, the patient is told to
 avoid, milk, or eggs, or wheat.  Current labels list these foods in a number
 of scientific or technical terms including caseinate, albumin, or semolina,"
 notes Munoz-Furlong.  "Labels should be written for consumers, not
 scientists."  As one FAAN member put it, "we are not chemists, and neither are
 Grandma and Grandpa."
     "While some manufacturers are doing the right thing on behalf of the
 food-allergic consumer, others are not.  All manufacturers must take food
 allergies seriously," adds Munoz-Furlong.
     The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is a Virginia-based,
 non-profit organization whose mission is: To increase public awareness about
 food allergy and anaphylaxis, to provide education, and to advance research on
 behalf of all those affected by food allergies.
     Founded in 1991, FAAN has over 23,000 members in the United States and
 around the world.  FAAN works with health professionals, medical and/or
 health-related associations, food manufacturers, government agencies,
 reporters, airlines, schools, restaurants, support groups, and individuals
 with food allergies and their families and friends.  For more information
 visit www.foodallergy.org
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X29903175
 
 SOURCE  The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network