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Update on hidden food allergens and food labeling

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This article is intended to review the current literature on “hidden” food allergens and the various ways in which sensitized individuals may be exposed to these allergens. A focus on advances in food labeling, and the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) is also included, because it assists food-allergic consumers in the strict avoidance of specific foods. Article information was gathered primarily through a computer search of relevant data relating to human subjects. Our findings indicate that sensitized individuals can unknowingly be exposed to allergenic proteins in foods through cross-contact, food containing allergenic nonfood products, food additives, and cross-reactivity. Furthermore, food packaging and formulation errors, ingredient switching, and foods not covered under the FALCPA were also found to be sources of hidden food allergens. There are many ways in which hypersensitive individuals can be exposed to potentially dangerous allergens despite careful avoidance. Furthermore, health care providers should consider various sources of hidden allergens in food-allergic individuals with an unclear etiology. Food hypersensitivity has been identified as a significant medical dilemma in our society. Recent efforts to increase public awareness and strides made in labeling of food products are encouraging.

Keywords: Anaphylaxis; FALCPA; Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act; cross-contact; cross-react; food allergy; food labeling; hidden allergens; ingredient labels; peanut allergy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: North Shore–Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Great Neck, New York

Publication date: November 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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