WASHINGTON DC (WCMH) – New changes from the Food and Drug Administration mean that the list of ingredients in foods consumers buy may not be entirely accurate.
Officials say it’s to protect strained supply chains, but parents of children with food allergies say the changes have created a dangerous guessing game.
Erin Malawer’s 15-year-old son Miles suffers from food allergies. She says that even in normal times it is difficult to find safe food.
“In these times when counseling is relaxed, it’s even more difficult and frankly almost impossible,” she said.
The FDA says it has temporarily relaxed food labeling guidelines to help the food industry cope with pandemic-related shortages of certain ingredients.
Now, food manufacturers can substitute some ingredients for others, without updating the ingredient list on food packaging.
“When we read the ingredient labels, I now have to honestly guess when I put it in my basket, whether this food will ultimately be safe for my child or not,” said Malawer.
None of the eight major food allergen groups, which include peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and dairy products, cannot be replaced without a label change.
“But there are over 170 foods that can cause life-threatening reactions,” Malawer said.
“I think a lot of people may not even have known about the relaxation of the guidelines,” said pediatric allergist Dr Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo.
Dr Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo says parents need to be even more careful with what their children eat and watch out for dangerous reactions.
“You want to read the labels but you also want to see how the child is doing,” she said.
The FDA says it encourages food manufacturers to post even minor changes to a product’s website or post notices where products are sold.
The FDA promises that the relaxed guidelines will end when the public health crisis is over.