The U.S. House of Representatives passed The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumers Protection Act (FALCPA), paving the way for significant changes to the way high-volume bakeries label their products' ingredients. The bill has already successfully passed through the U.S. Senate and awaits final approval from President Bush. If the President approves the bill, the legislation would take effect January 1, 2006. This also is the same date that trans-fatty acid labeling takes effect, potentially creating a slew of changes to the Nutrition Facts panel.
FALCPA will require food manufacturers to clearly label in "plain English" the eight major allergens (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans) in a product. Currently, food manufacturers identify ingredients by their scientific names rather than their common names. "For example, whey and casein are foods derived from milk that cause allergic reactions in those allergic to milk. Currently, whey and casein are required to be identified in the food ingredient list only as whey and casein," FALCPA states.
According to the bill, some parents of children with food allergies are unable to identify these ingredients derived from the major food allergens. "Use of plain English in food labels to identify the presence of the eight major food allergens will make the food label much more useful to consumers with food allergies," the bill states.
Although FALCPA will require bakers to make changes to their packaging, many in the industry already have taken actions to highlight a product's potential allergens. Others in the industry laud the bill for its ability to protect consumers. "The bill represents a positive move towards protecting those susceptible to allergens and gives consumers the information they need to protect themselves and their families," Robin Alton, Independent Bakers Association's chairman, said.
Although the labeling aspect of the bill has received the most attention, FALCPA also provides for: