This week (May 13 – May 19, 2012) is recognized as Food Allergy Awareness Week (“FAAW”). FAAW was created by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (“FAAN”), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness food allergies and those who suffer from them. An annual event since 1998, FAAW began at a time when companies were not required to declare major food allergens in labeling.
In 2004 Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (“FALCPA”), thereby giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) the authority to regulate in this area. Since the passage of FALCPA, the FDA has developed regulations requiring labelers to identify the “major food allergens” in product labeling. The eight major food allergens, as defined by FALCPA are: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.
Under FDA regulations, any of these foods, including ingredients derived from them, must be listed in accordance with food labeling rules. If manufacturers and/or packagers of foods do not comply with these labeling regulations and such non-compliance is discovered, the FDA may take action against a firm. Additionally, non-compliant firms may voluntarily issue recalls of affected goods to dissuade the FDA from taking further enforcement action. For more information about recalls of this type and food allergen information, please see our previous reports here and here. In conjunction with FAAW, the FDA has provided consumers with an overview of food allergen issues, which may be accessed here.