FDA relaxes certain food labeling laws -- it could put those with food allergies at risk

There is an allergy risk from relaxed labeling laws.

DETROIT – If you’ve tried to buy flour or yeast lately, you know the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected the supply chain of many common ingredients.

Last Friday night, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a change, relaxing certain food labeling laws. It’s intended to help manufacturers keep products on store shelves, but it could also put those with food allergies at risk.

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The policy change allows manufacturers to make minor formulation changes without changing their labels -- as would usually be required.

The ingredient being substituted can only make up 2 percent or less of the food. Manufacturers cannot substitute ingredients from the eight most common food allergies, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat and soy.

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The order said companies should also avoid substitutes involving sesame, celery, gluten and sulfites. That’s where the assurances end though.

Manufacturers could substitute canola oil and sunflower oil without changing the label. Different varieties of mushrooms or peppers could be substituted and unbleached flour could be used instead of bleach.

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About the Authors:

Kimberly Gill joined the Local 4 News team in November 2014. She was named Personality of the Year in 2009 by the Ohio Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. She’s also a two-time Emmy winner.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.