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“Allergen-free” products may not really be allergen-free

Posted on November 21st, 2008 by Alison Read 2 Comments - Add Your Own »

If a product says “gluten-free,” do you trust it? If it says it contains no dairy, it’s okay to feed to your milk-allergic kid, right? Well, maybe not, according to some frightening information regarding products and their allergen-free status published in the Chicago Tribune.

Among some of the findings in the Tribune investigation:

  • Products labeled as gluten-free actually had high levels of gluten (specifically, some products made by Wellshire Farms)
  • About five products a week are recalled because of hidden allergens
  • Recalls are voluntary, meaning that even if a company knows there is an allergen present, no one can force them to take it off the shelves
  • Nearly half of the allergy-related recalls in the last 10 years were not announced to the public
  • There is no standard rule for what gluten-free means

According to the article:

“American children with food allergies are suffering life-threatening — and completely avoidable — reactions because manufacturers mislabel their products and regulators fail to police store shelves.”

This is very scary news for people with severe food allergies. You can find out about recalls by visiting the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network’s Special Allergy Alerts page on their website, or better yet, sign up for their Special Allergy Alerts via email.

In the meantime, we have to continue to be on guard with any processed foods — and unfortunately, even with the ones we consider “safe.”

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  1. Thanks for talking about this article. The fact that we cannot trust packaged/processed food isn’t too surprising, though it was eye-opening to see some of the numbers. The great thing about the article is it brought the issue to the forefront, and we need that so that people without food allergies and intolerances become more aware.

  2. Here is another resource that people might want to know about for information on mislabeled products. http://ellfoundation.org/

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