The Allergy Aware
Specificity in Labels
When Courtney Mulherin of Leesburg was a toddler, one of her parents' worst nightmares came true. Courtney, who has a milk allergy, had a severe allergic reaction at her day-care center after eating some food she was served that contained dairy, said her mother, Kim. The staff didn't realize that the "casein" on the label was derived from milk.
Soon, kids with serious allergies like Courtney, now 11, may be spared some of the dangers of inadvertently eating something that can make them sick.
That's because as of Jan. 1, newly printed labels have to say in clear, understandable language whether a product contains one of eight food allergen groups.
So if "casein" is included, "milk" would be listed after it. That should take some of the guesswork out of avoiding dangerous reactions by the 2 percent of adults and 5 percent of children in the United States who, like Courtney, suffer from food allergies.
The new Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act allows grocery stores to sell off products that were labeled before Jan. 1, but early in the new year some changes will be noticeable on the grocery shelves:
As for food sold in restaurants, don't expect to see allergen labeling. The same goes for fresh fruits and vegetables.
-- Carole Sugarman