Reading food labels poses its challenges whether your child has already received the food allergy diagnosis or you’re a seasoned food allergy parent. Food allergies may appear during infancy or when you consume the food item for the first time.
Allergic symptoms may appear externally on the skin or may affect organs internally, such as gastrointestinal, respiratory, or cardiovascular, with a wide range of symptoms such as tongue swelling, sneezing or coughing, and cardiac arrest.
Food allergy is different for each child; some may tolerate the allergen in minimal amounts, while others may have to avoid even the tiniest amount. Avoidance is the first line of defense when managing food allergies.
Here’s how to read a food label for recognizing allergens effectively:
1. Understanding the law
It’s crucial to understand what manufacturers must report as labeling laws are different across the world. The United States of America passed a food allergen labeling and consumer protection act in 2004 that made it mandatory for packaged food products to label eight major food allergens (crustacean shellfish, egg, fish, milk, peanut, soy, tree nut, and wheat) exclusively on the ingredient list.
1. Know what to look for
Manufacturers aren’t always consistent or clear when listing the eight major allergens. They may specially mention the allergen under the ingredient list with a statement such as ‘contains wheat or place it in the ingredient list in parenthesis ‘flour (wheat)’ or choose to bold it to make it identifiable. You must be vigilant about the writing style in this case.
2. Not every allergen requires to be listed
You must recognize that manufacturers aren’t required to list ‘trace’ allergens or the presence of any unintended allergens. This is due to cross-contamination during the manufacturing process by using shared equipment with an allergen or being close to an allergen.
Manufacturers may or may not choose to include precautionary allergen labeling under such circumstances, where they list terms such as ‘may contain,’ ‘may contain traces of,’ ‘manufactured on shared equipment with,’ ‘produced in a factory with’ and ‘packaged in a shared facility with.’
3. Spot the precautionary allergen labeling
You’re likely to spot this under the ingredient list, but it may also be located elsewhere on the package. For this reason, you must thoroughly read the entire package to not miss out on any potential indication for hazards.
4. Manufacturers are allowed to change the product
The production process is subject to change at any time the manufacturers wish to do so. Parents and caregivers must be conscious about reading the food label each time their kid consumes a packaged food item regardless of how renowned and trusted the food item or manufacturer is.
5. Allergens have different names
Lastly, you must be well aware that allergens can be referred to by different names, or they may be labeled differently if they’re a derivative of a particular food. For example, ‘whey’ is the watery part of milk after curd formation, so it still classifies as an allergen.
At the A thru X Pediatrics, one of the best Pediatric Clinic San Antonio, our pediatricians are the best choice of many parents in the Stone Oaks community for the primary care of their newborns, children, and adolescents. Take your first step towards allergy relief today, request an appointment. You can also schedule sick visits at our Medical Center and consult us regarding behavioral changes, sports physical activities, asthma treatment, and vaccinations.
Additionally, we’re offering COVID-19 testing at our clinics located in San Antonio, TX. Contact us for more information about our Pediatrician San Antonio.