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Companies’ Improper Labeling of Food Threatens Those with Allergies

Manufacturers mislabeling their products and regulators failure to police store shelves have led to children with food allergies suffering life-threatening and completely avoidable allergic reactions. An investigation revealed that the government rarely inspects food to find problems and does not punish companies that repeatedly violate labeling laws. In disclosing ingredients, labels must clearly identify major allergens such as peanuts, milk, eggs and wheat which parents, teachers and baby-sitters scrutinize these labels to ensure that they are not giving children unsafe food. However, a study showed that an alarming number of products sold as allergen-free actually do contain harmful amounts of these allergens. Products such as Oreos, Pop-Tarts, Frosted Flakes, Jello-O and Campbell’s Spaghettios have been recalled for hidden allergens in recent years. One woman bought chicken bites with the label of “gluten free” for her son who has a severe wheat allergy. After the boy ate the nuggets, he started coughing, his eyes swelled and he had trouble breathing. His mom had to give him epinephrine and take him to the emergency room. Although she contacted both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the food manufacturer, neither offered to test the chicken nuggets. Even when products are recalled they issue statements, yet fail to pull the items off the shelf. Parents are urged to carefully check all labels, due to the product liablity since “gluten free” labels can be misleading. To read the full story, click here.