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Bypass Food Reactions – Learn How to Read Food Labels

Posted Nov 22 2009 10:00pm

If you are a regular food label reader, did you know that even the most diligent scanning can still result in food reactions? If you have problems with gluten or dairy, those supposed gluten-free and dairy-free foods still may have some type of enzyme or chemical derived from the very types of food you are trying to circumvent. Because of this issue, the FDA is devising a number of standardized definitions for the description of foods so that you will be able to tell what each ingredient is.

Learn How to Read Food Labels

Food labeling is necessary to comply with the law. Any major food allergy triggers must be clearly displayed on the packaging if it contains any ingredient or derivative of the ingredient. While the foods may not contain the actual allergic ingredient, if the food is made in the same manufacturing plant as another product that does create food products with those allergens, there is a possibility of cross contamination. The food labels must clearly state this scenario as well. For instance, cookies may have a food label saying they contain no nuts but other cookies in the factory may be baked with nuts and so the label must indicate the possibility.

How to read food labels

It is smart to read food labels, but you must be more aware of the variety of ways ingredients can be described, especially if they are derivatives of foods you are allergic to. Here are some important aspects to keep an eye out for:

Even if it is a product you have purchased for years, read the food packaging. Sometimes, food manufacturers change the production process or modify ingredients without any type of warning. It is important, therefore, to always read food labels, even for those “tried and true” go-to safe products.
Please note that food labels that proclaim it is free of something like “dairy-free” are not always accurate. These proclamations are not regulated by the government and therefore these food products could still have minute amounts of the supposedly absent ingredient. For example, powdered creamers for drinks sometimes mention they are dairy-free but there is usually a powdered form of some type of milk derivative.
Keep an eye out for food packaging that says something like “may contain” on its label. This possible claim covers manufacturers in the event of a consumer has an allergic reaction but it can be quite a nuisance for you when shopping for safe foods. This “may contain” phrase basically means that your supposedly safe food product could have been contaminated by an allergen. Any manufacturer that uses nuts for some products but not for others uses this proclamation quite a bit.

Some food labels are a bit nebulous. Is it safe to take a chance on a food product with “may contain” on the label? Is there any way to avoid these foods altogether? When food allergies are mild, you can probably chance it and be ok. However, if you have a life threatening allergy or one that makes you completely miserable, it can be tough to shop for food. This ambiguous food labeling is the very thing the FDA is trying to remedy.

The best thing to do is avoid anything suspect and purchase only fresh foods that have not seen the inside of a factory. Look to internet grocers that cater to people with severe allergies and only market safely manufactured foods. Health food stores are good options to shop in. However, the only way to be absolutely certain about your food is to read food labels diligently.

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