What to Know About Allergen Statements and Package Labeling

Do you have a food allergy? Then you understand the importance of living life by food labels. Many people don’t think twice about eating something, but people with food allergies need to pay attention – all of the time.

Legislation like the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) brings better regulation and control to the industry, ensuring high-quality standards. Along with the new laws, people with food allergies find it easier to make food choices due to the industry standards surrounding the contents of food and package labeling.

Along with FALCPA, the allergen labeling of sesame is now a requirement under the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act of 2021.

Allergen Statements and Package Labeling

While ingredients in food should be listed in the ingredients, FALCPA only covers eight of the most prevalent allergens (milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish). It’s important to note that molluscan shellfish (clams, oysters, scallops, or mussels aren’t required on labels as an allergen.

What to Look for on a Food Label?

Food allergens regulated under the FASTER and FALCPA Acts can appear on food labels in the following three ways.

In the ingredients listing, under the common name for the allergen. Use “Contains” followed by the allergens name.

In parentheses in the ingredients list when the ingredient used is a derivative of the major allergen. For example, when manufacturers list “albumin (egg).” The manufacturer must list the specific allergen ingredients with crustacean shellfish and tree nuts.

If you’re shopping or looking at a menu and notice any of these labels, it means the food allergen is in some way present in the food, or there is a possibility of cross-contamination. Food manufacturers must include the FALCPA-regulated allergen on the list, even if it’s a small amount.

The FASTER and FALCPA Acts don’t regulate all food allergens. For instance, products like mustard may be covered by the generalized term “natural flavorings.”

“May Contain” Food Label Statements

If you’re browsing the shelves and picking up another food product, you might notice the label says “May Contain.” What does that mean exactly? “May contain” is part of a group of language statements like “Made in an environment with” or “processed in a facility that also processes.”

These warnings frequently follow the ingredients listing. Many manufacturers use it, despite it not being mandatory to do so. No laws govern these statements. There remains no official guideline on how to warn consumers of what might be in these products, so manufacturers sometimes take it upon themselves.

Labels may or may not indicate if a product came in contact with or unintentionally contains a food allergen. Similarly, the lack of an advisory label doesn’t indicate the product is safe for consumption. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that all food advisory labels must not be used as a substitute to avoid adhering to good manufacturing practices and standards and must be truthful, not misleading.”

Other Food Label Statements on Allergens

Consumers should also be aware that phrases like “egg-free” and “peanut-free” aren’t regulated. That means that food products can use these labels but be manufactured in facilities where the food allergens are present.

What can Fortress Nutrition LLC do for you?

Rest assured that you’re in good hands with Fortress Nutrition. To learn more about how we tailor our blending, ingredient sourcing, logistics, consumer packaging, and other services to meet customer needs, and find out how we can partner with you to ensure compliance with new GMO laws, contact us today.