Consumers, watch out for food allergy labels

on Friday, 06 April 2012. Posted in Diet and Nutrition, News Written By: superadmin

Consumers, watch out for food allergy labels

Approximately 15 million Americans and 2.5 million Canadians suffer from food-allergies. Do you check the allergy label before buying a food product or is it too confusing to comprehend?

Approximately 15 million Americans and 2.5 million Canadians suffer from food-allergies. Do you check the allergy label before buying a food product or is it too confusing to comprehend?

Dr. Moshe Ben-Shochan, Professor of Allergy and Immunology at McGill University Health Center, Montreal who led the study stated that food items should have only one label regarding allergy notifications for clarity.

Almost 2,400 people from general populace, allergy registers and advocacy groups were recruited for the study conducted from May 2007 to March 2009 which was funded by Health Canada and AllerGen. The findings were published in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Participants included ‘directly affected ‘households in which at least one family member had food allergy and ‘indirectly affected’ households which supplied food to people with allergies like preschoolers or students.

Participants answered questions about their possibility of purchasing food with allergy-labels like ‘may contain’, ‘manufactured in a facility’ or ‘not suitable’. The study found that people were more likely to ignore warning labels if their household was directly rather than indirectly affected by food allergies.

People belonging to advocacy groups were conscious of food purchases. Amongst directly affected consumers from general public, almost 44% confirmed they would purchase food item even if it read ‘may contain’ label.

Approximately 10% of people from allergy associations and 16% of indirectly affected people confirmed that they would buy a food product having such labels. All groups avoided purchase of a food item with ‘not suitable’ label. Participants from households were less careful if the allergy affected an adult as compared to children.

The findings suggested that it is surprising that consumers are less watchful of allergy labels. They tend to be vigilant while preparing food for others. Dr.Rauno Joks, Chief of Allergy and Immunology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn added that adults tend to take more chances on their own health as compared to that of another family member, child or someone outside their household.

Researchers said that advocacy groups being more careful only prove that awareness is the key to food allergy problems. The more educated people are; lesser the chances of problems due to allergic reactions.

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