Prepare for Valentine’s Day by Reading Your Labels
February 14 is fast approaching. Valentine’s Day is celebrated by many with cards, flowers and candy and homemade treats. For children with food allergies (and their parents), Valentine’s Day offers an additional layer of stress due to heightened risk for exposure. Label-reading, while vitally important every day, becomes even more critical at holiday times. By keeping these tips in mind, you can help keep your child safe this Valentine’s Day!
Many candy manufacturers may change packaging for holidays. Specialty holiday items may be produced differently or in different facilities than their everyday counterparts, which can impact potential cross-contact of allergens. Other items may contain different ingredients than the everyday or full-size version. A product that is safe in its usual form may not be safe in its holiday form.
It is important to note that the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) only covers the eight most common allergens – milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and crustacean shellfish. FALCPA requires that these allergens be called out in one of three ways:
In the ingredient list, using the allergen’s common name.
- Using the word “Contains” followed by the name of the major food allergen.
- In the ingredient list in parentheses, when the ingredient a less common form of the allergen, for example “albumin (egg)”.
Also keep in mind that phrases such as “peanut-free” and “egg-free” are not regulated. Other allergens such as sesame or mustard can be present in other “natural ingredients.” Always contact the manufacturer if you are not sure. If the product does not have a label, don’t take chances – avoid the treat.
Holidays like Valentine’s Day can present new challenges, but by reading the label, every time, and encouraging your child to do the same, you can minimize potential exposure to your allergen.
For more information on how to read a label and what to look for, visit FARE’s How to Read A Food Label page. Be sure to check out FARE’s Be A PAL-entine Parent’s Guide for other Valentine’s Day tips and resources.