Read The Labels

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states:

Each year, millions of Americans have allergic reactions to food. Although most food allergies cause relatively mild and minor symptoms, some food allergies can cause severe reactions, and may even be life-threatening. There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of food allergens and early recognition and management of allergic reactions to food are important measures to prevent serious health consequences.

While this is a statement of the obvious, if you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy, you MUST read food labels when grocery shopping. We have made mistakes before and we had no choice than to turn those mistakes into learning experiences. The first big mistake was with sushi from Whole Foods Market. We wrote about it here. The problem there is that I just looked at the “contains” statement. I did not read the whole label.

Here is another example of a screwed up “contains” statement:

gluten free spouseThis is a “snack keg” is marketed by a convenience store chain. There are pretzels pictured on the front, which was the first red flag. My eyes always seem to go to the bold “contains” statement first.

Check out the statement here. Nothing but tree nuts and milk. Well, if it’s got pretzels then we need to check that out. And there it is, halfway down the list, “enriched wheat flour” and then “barley malt extract” a little further down.

Reading labels is a task that has to be learned. As I have gotten older, I have to remember to take my reading glasses to the grocery store. Read, read, read.

You will get the hang of it and be able to scan for the gluten containing words. Many of those with celiac disease have other food allergies also, so you may have a big list of words you are looking for.

Here is the FDA’s guidance on how the major food allergens are to be listed on the labels:

The law requires that food labels identify the food source names of all major food allergens used to make the food. This requirement is met if the common or usual name of an ingredient (e.g., buttermilk) that is a major food allergen already identifies that allergen’s food source name (i.e., milk).  Otherwise, the allergen’s food source name must be declared at least once on the food label in one of two ways.  

The name of the food source of a major food allergen must appear:

  1. In parentheses following the name of the ingredient. Examples: “lecithin (soy),” “flour (wheat),” and “whey (milk)”

– OR –

  1. Immediately after or next to the list of ingredients in a “contains” statement. Example: “Contains Wheat, Milk, and Soy.”

As you can see, the label in the picture follows the rules but, in my opinion, if they are going to use a “contains” statement then they should be accurate on their listing.

Well, I managed to write this without using any bad language and that was tough. This is a very personal issue to me because I do not like to see my wife hurt from the pain caused because I didn’t read the label correctly.

Let us know what your experiences have been.




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