Hidden allergens in food

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The Grocery Manufacturers Association says in an effort to provide more transparency, it has helped to pioneer something called "SmartLabel.org". (KFSN)

Alison Manhoff loves cooking with her son Hudson. Prepping food is no piece of cake, especially since Hudson is allergic to many foods.

"He was allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. Eventually, we added eggs, dairy, soy," said Manhoff.

It wasn't until he accidentally ate a classmate's hummus in preschool that Manhoff found out just how serious the allergy could be.

"They immediately used an epinephrine device to provide emergency care and called an ambulance," said Manhoff.

Hudson had an anaphylactic reaction and now Manhoff diligently reads labels. The thing is, manufacturers aren't required to list sesame. In fact, only the top eight allergens-- things like milk, eggs, nuts, wheat, and shellfish-must are declared on labels.

That's a problem, according to Dr. Jim Baker. He says there are over 100 foods proven to cause allergies and reactions can be severe.

"We've had severe reactions, in some cases even deaths, from Sesame allergy," said Dr. Baker.

Dr. Baker says ingredients can show up in foods you wouldn't expect.

"One of the big problems we have in this country is that you group things and call them natural flavorings," said Dr. Baker.

The FDA says "the eight major food allergens" account for over 90 percent of all cases.

Dr. Baker stresses that it does not mean other allergens are less important.

"We'd like full and complete content labeling for all foods. It's done in other countries around the world and we feel it could be done here."

The Grocery Manufacturers Association tells us the FDA and USDA set food labeling regulations--but "companies can disclose additional information voluntarily". A consumer concerned about a specific ingredient can also contact the manufacturer.

Alison contacts manufacturers on a regular basis but wishes she didn't have to jump through hoops to keep her son safe.

"When it comes to food allergens and the potential that it could impact someone's life, I think we need more transparency," said Manhoff.

Related Topics:
healthallergieshealth food
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