Check food labels for allergens

Reading food labels can help protect you from becoming ill due to food allergies.

Allergies are not something that any of us should take lightly. It is important for each of us to know what is in the foods we prepare, consume and that we label it correctly. Many people depend on the correct labeling of foods, especially if they have a known allergy. For those of us who have just discovered we have a food allergy, it is important to learn the best ways to find out if a particular food contains that allergen. Reading the label can help us do that.

There are eight major food types that are considered to account for 90 percent of food allergies. They are; milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. The raw product or anything containing or derived from the allergen must be listed on the label of the food item. The allergen may be listed as “contains” and then the allergens must be clearly stated.

There is also specific verbiage that may be listed on the label such as “may contain” or “made on equipment with” these statements are voluntary. Because these are not regulated terms or conditions it is important for you as the consumer to know what allergens affect you or those in your care. It is also important to read labels and if you have a question call the manufacturer for any information on products. To help manufacturers identify what consumers need to know on the label you can present a formal written complaint.

Michigan State University Extension recommends reading all labels when purchasing, cooking or consuming food. This is a way for you to remain safe from allergens that may have come into contact with your food.

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