FARE Supports the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2018. Here’s How You Can, Too.

This spring, FARE is working with federal legislators and regulators to protect health and improve quality of life for individuals with food allergy. On the legislative side of these efforts, FARE is supporting H.R.5425 and S.2647, the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2018, which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 2 by sponsor Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and co-sponsor Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and in the U.S. Senate on April 11 by sponsor Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and co-sponsors Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA). If enacted, this legislation would require that sesame be labeled under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) and that allergen information be included on the labels of non-packaged foods sold at retail.

Labeling all sesame in packaged foods would make life much simpler and safer for individuals and families managing sesame allergy. According to recent prevalence data, allergy to sesame among U.S. children appears to be as common as allergies to the eight foods for which labeling is required. The severity of reactions to sesame and the potency of sesame allergen – that is, the small amount of allergen that can trigger a reaction – are also comparable to top eight allergens. Sesame labeling is already required in the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and was recommended in the consensus report on food allergy safety released in 2016 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Mathematics.

FARE has sent letters of support thanking Rep. Pallone, Rep. DeLauro, Sen. Blumenthal, Sen. Whitehouse and Sen. Markey for sponsoring the Food Labeling Modernization Act. We are now launching efforts to mobilize advocates across the country to let their own congressional delegations know how much the food allergy community values and supports legislation to label sesame. You can take action to improve food allergen labeling by asking your legislators to co-sponsor H.R.5425 and S.2647.

On the regulatory side of FARE’s food safety advocacy, Senior National Director of Advocacy Jen Jobrack attended the biennial meeting of the Conference for Food Protection (CFP), held April 16-20 in Richmond, VA. A non-profit organization established in 1971, the CFP provides a formal process whereby members of industry, regulatory, academic, consumer and professional organizations are afforded equal input in the development and/or modification of food safety guidance issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Such guidance is incorporated into food safety laws and regulations at all levels of government throughout the U.S., principally the Food Code published by the FDA. FARE is one of three consumer groups to have a formal appointment to the CFP. 

Food allergen cross-contact was first cited in the FDA Food Code in 2009, and again in the 2013 and 2017 versions. Three issues related to food allergy were submitted this year, including one from FARE which addresses the knowledge of personnel selling non-prepackaged foods, such as from a bakery counter in a supermarket. Because of these submissions, the CFP has recommended that a food allergy task force be established to consider additional food allergen safety needs that can be addressed by modifications to the Food Code. As of this writing, the task force is expected to be approved and will report its findings next year.


Photo credit: Ken Kistler