Wednesday, January 14, 2009

important: last day to comment to the FDA

Today, January 14, is the last day the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is accepting comments on "may contain (allergen)" food labeling. As I know many of us with Migraine and other chronic illnesses are sensitive to food ingredients, I ask all of you to take a minute today and consider sending comments to the FDA.

The FDA comment form can be found here. A link from that page will bring you to the full FDA document.

My comments are as follows:
As an individual highly sensitive to a number of foods, I depend on accurate labeling of food products. Because of Chronic Migraines and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I cannot eat gluten, dairy, monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners, most chemical preservatives/additives or nitrates. I have to severely limit my intake of sugar and salt. Without accurate labeling on food packaging, it is impossible to keep my diet.

The "may contain (allergen)" labeling recently introduced has been a helpful first step for my family and me to determine what I can or cannot eat. However, it is only a first step. Gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye and barley, is not currently labeled as such. Many gluten-sensitive individuals, such as myself, therefore must conduct an extensive amount of research to decide if a particular food is safe or not. This research often ends in contacting a manufacturer directly. Rather than risk consuming unsafe foods and becoming ill, I avoid them.

MSG is also not required to be labeled as such on food packaging. This makes it nearly impossible to avoid in processed foods, when it can masquerade as "autolyzed yeast extract" or even "natural flavoring". Consuming MSG will trigger an almost immediate and severe Migraine, often lasting days and completely debilitating me. Again, rather than risk consuming unsafe foods and becoming ill, I avoid them.

Lastly, when an ingredient such as broth is used in a food, the ingredients of that ingredient are not required to be labeled. Broth is particularly problematic for me - it can contain gluten, dairy, MSG or other foods I am sensitive to. If I buy a package of tuna that contains "broth", I have no way of telling if that tuna is safe for me to eat. Once again, rather than risk consuming unsafe foods and becoming ill, I avoid them.

Practically, all of this food avoidance means my family and I have to cook virtually all of our food from scratch. If food manufacturers are required to label all ingredients in their food in a clear and straightforward manner, it will open up more food options for me and massively simplify my shopping habits.

I therefore urge the FDA to:

1. Continue the "may contain" food labeling;
2. Require all ingredients, including gluten and MSG, to be labeled in a clear and straightforward manner; and
3. Require ingredients of ingredients, such as the ingredients of broth, to be labeled in a clear and straightforward manner.

I applaud the FDA's efforts to clear up food labeling for the sake of food allergic and food sensitive individuals. Now is the time to continue to clarify food labeling, to avoid severe illness caused by unintentional consumption of allergens.

Thank you for your consideration.
Thanks to ChronicBabe and Allergic Girl for publicizing this.

Be well,


Debbie said...

MJ Thanks.

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Here are the symptoms : GOOGLE IT