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Food allergy and the nutrition label

Especially during COVID, it’s important to know where to find your kiddo with food allergy safe by knowing where allergensare listed on a product’s nutrition label. Here’s how to do that.

First step: listen to my latest Food Allergy and Your Kiddo podcast. On this show, I interview food allergy advocate Jen Jobrack. We discuss the history of the nutrition label, what claims are – and are NOT – regulated on food products, and how COVID-19 is impacting the nutrition label.

Step two of two: access the Food Allergy Mama’s Guide to Identifying Allergens on the US Nutrition Label in the Food Allergy Toolbox. Quick win: save the image to your phone so that you have it with you when you are at the grocery store.

FALCPA. “Umm, what?” you may be thinking…

The purpose of FALCPA is to require food manufacturers label the “Big 8” allergens on the nutrition label of their food products. Note that only the Big 8 allergens are required to be noted in a very specific ways. Those “Big 8” include:

  • Peanut
  • Tree Nuts
  • Egg
  • Milk
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Crustacean Shellfish

This means that if you are allergic to something other than the Big 8, your allergen should still be listed within the ingredients list but not bolded or otherwise somehow highlighted.

The FDA website has lots of information about understanding the entire food label. Check it out here.

How COVID-19 is impacting kiddos with food allergy including and beyond the nutrition label

COVID-19 impacts kiddos who have food allergies. Let’s check out a few ways this is happening.

Relaxation of Ingredients Regulations

As discussed on the podcast, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has relaxed its labeling requirements during COVID-19. While this does not impact the Big 8 nor should allergens like sesame be impacted, continue to do your due diligence. Listen to Jen’s break down of this situation on the podcast and check out the FDA’s Q&A.

Food Insecurity

Although many people may think food allergy is a disease of the affluent, this disease certainly impacts families with little means. The economic impact of food allergy on a family is mind boggling – check out Dr. Ruchi Gupta’s article in JAMA about this issue. So it isn’t surprising that during this COVID-19 pandemic, it can be expensive and difficult to find safe foods. This hits family with lesser means particularly hard. Consider making allergy-friendly donations to your local food bank, and check out this great work from Emily Brown’s brainchild Food Equality Initiative.

Anaphylaxis Action Plans

Check with your allergist on this… Some allergists are recommending that, should your kiddo have an allergic reaction and is treated with epi, that you may manage this at homeMore on that here.

About Jen Jobrack

How awesome is Jen? She is a tremendous advocate for kiddos – and adults – with food allergy. Learn more about her here.

Listen to the podcast about the nutrition label and food allergy.

Have your nutrition label and other food allergy questions answered on the podcast! Submit your question HERE!

Additional Show Notes

I have talked about a non-profit…

The non-profit is The Teal Schoolhouse, whose primary program is Code Ana. Code Ana equips schools for medical emergencies like anaphylaxis. Our primary program is the Code Ana School Program, which is a comprehensive approach to school-focused medical preparedness. This program guides schools through the process of creating a medical emergency response plan. This is one of the most important components of a school's food allergy policy!

A medical emergency response plan is important for all kiddos and for adults at any school! Our primary goal is to share the School Program, and Code Ana’s Online Epinephrine Training Program helps support that goal. Through this program, you will educate yourself while you support this important mission! (BTW although Pam and I serve in leadership roles of Code Ana and The Teal Schoolhouse, our time/effort/work is completely voluntary). Does your kiddo’s school have Code Ana?

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