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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Food

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Letter to Food Labeling and Standards Concerning Food Allergen Labeling Guidelines

May 2001

Ms. Regina Hildwine, Senior Director
Food Labeling and Standards
National Food Processors Association
1350 I Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005

Dear Ms. Hildwine:

I was pleased to meet with members of The Food Allergy Issues Alliance on May 22, 2001 and to learn, first hand, of important steps you are taking to enhance labeling of food allergens.

In particular, I was impressed by your consensus document, Food Allergen Labeling Guidelines, which I see as a major effort to galvanize the food industry across many sectors. I believe the Alliance effort represents a significant step forward in addressing the prevalence and the identification of the eight major allergens (the allergens that cause 90% of all food allergic reactions) in plain simple language in the food ingredient statement.

As you know, the FDA is concerned about food allergies as they affect an estimated six to seven million persons in the United States. Unfortunately, young children are among those most commonly affected.

The Alliance's plan complements FDA's food allergen guidance and will help food processors diligently inform food allergic consumers about the presence of the eight major allergens in their products. This will be a major health benefit to the food allergy sensitive consumer.

In addition, this guideline announcement is significant because it signals that industry recognizes the importance of food allergen control procedures. The Center is pleased that the consensus guideline also recognizes the public health need to disclose food allergens regardless of the fact that they may otherwise be exempted from declaration (e.g., as part of a flavoring ingredient). In calling for this, your guideline is consistent with positions articulated by the Food and Drug Administration regarding food allergens. This is a significant step forward and lays the groundwork for addressing additional food allergen issues in the future.

I support the Alliance in its labeling effort, and I look forward to working with you in the future to ensure their full implementation. Your effort signals an appropriate and needed industry concern for the food allergy sensitive person. I encourage the Alliance to move forward swiftly to implement these important guidelines.

Sincerely,

Joseph A. Levitt
Director
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

 

Identical letter sent to the following:

Lisa D. Katic, R.D.
Director, Scientific and Nutrition Policy
Grocery Manufacturers of America
1010 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20007

Anne Munoz-Furlong
Founder and CEO
Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
10400 Eaton Place
Suite 107
Fairfax, VA 22030