Food Allergen Labeling Bill Passed
CSPI Urges President Bush to Sign Legislation Making Allergens Easier to Spot on Food Labels
July 21, 2004
Legislation that will help Americans with food allergies spot common allergens on food labels has passed both houses of Congress and is headed to President Bush for his signature. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the nonprofit nutrition and food-safety watchdog group that has been advocating for the changes to food labels, applauded the bill’s passage and urged President Bush to sign it into law.
“This legislation will be of great help to Americans who cope with food allergies, particularly parents of young children who have food allergies,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “Senators Edward Kennedy and Judd Gregg, and Representatives Nita Lowey and James Greenwood deserve particular credit for steering this bipartisan legislation through despite behind-the-scenes opposition from food processors.”
The bill requires food manufacturers to use plain English words like “milk” or “wheat” rather than less familiar words like “casein” or “semolina” to identify the most common food allergens on ingredients lists. Eight ingredients—eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soybeans, tree nuts, and wheat—account for most allergic reactions. The bill closes a major loophole that now lets allergens in natural flavorings, natural colorings, and spices go undisclosed. The bill requires the Food and Drug Administration to inspect food manufacturing facilities for inadvertent cross-contamination of foods with allergens during processing. The bill also directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect data on adverse reactions to allergenic foods.
Each year 29,000 Americans are hospitalized and 150 die from allergic reactions to food.