Senate passes food allergen labelling act

March 10, 2004, The US senate has passed new food labeling legislation requiring processors to identify all major allergens that are contained in a food item.

The bill, which will now go before the House of Representatives, will ensure that ingredient statements provide clear information about contents containing milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, peanuts and soybeans.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act would include all food items and additives such as spices, flavorings and colorings. If the bill passes the House of Representatives it would take effect on January 1, 2006.

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) welcomed the senate’s passing of the bill, calling it “an important step forward in providing clear, consistent and reliable ingredient label information”.

"Those with food allergies depend upon the ingredient label to make decisions that impact their health," said Anne Munoz-Furlong, FAAN’s founder.

"Inaccurate and confusing ingredient labels have caused reactions as some labels are incomplete, or misleading. FAAN applauds this groundbreaking legislation as a major step forward for the 7 million Americans who must avoid food allergens," she added.

The National Food Processors Association said many companies are already providing allergen information on food labels.

"The Senate-passed provisions related to allergen labeling, in part, reflect what many companies already are doing. Nevertheless, it is our hope that as this legislation continues to move through the process, further modification will make it more functional for industry and consumers alike," said Tamara Somerville, senior vice president of government affairs for the NFPA.

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