FDA: Many food producers don't list all allergy-provoking ingredients

Tuesday, April 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Food and Drug Administration has found that a quarter of all food manufacturers don't list ingredients that cause potentially fatal allergic reactions, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

The FDA says the omissions pose a threat to the roughly seven million Americans who suffer from food allergies and who rely on a product's packaging to keep them safe, the newspaper said.

The agency examined 85 companies most likely to use common allergy triggers in abundance: cookie makers, candy companies and ice cream manufacturers. Twenty-five percent made products with raw ingredients like nuts but did not list them on their labels, the FDA said.

The study was ordered after the agency noticed an increase in the recall of foods from store shelves because of allergy-inducing ingredients not listed on the product's label, the Times said.

Companies are required to list everything that goes into their products, but trace amounts of ``natural'' ingredients can be omitted from labels under FDA rules.

The report found many of the allergens were not deliberately added to the food, but often slipped in undetected because bakers used the same utensils to stir separate mixes or reused baking sheets between batches.

The FDA's report, which took place over two years and was completed earlier this year, also found 47 percent of the manufacturers did not check their products to ensure that all the ingredients were accurately reflected on the labels.

Food allergies can cause anaphylaxis, a severe reaction in which the skin itches, the throat swells and breathing becomes short. Some victims risk death.