FDA temporarily relaxes food-labeling guidelines to help food industry, parents worry about kids with allergies

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WASHINGTON D.C. (WCMH) — New changes from the Food and Drug Administration mean the list of ingredients in the food consumers buy might not be completely accurate.

Officials say its to protect strained supply chains, but parents of kids with food allergies say the changes have created a dangerous guessing game.

Erin Malawer’s 15-year-old son, Miles, has food allergies. She says even in normal times, its hard to find food that’s safe.

“In these times when the guidance is relaxed, its even harder and frankly almost impossible,” she said.

The FDA says it temporarily relaxed food-labeling guidelines to help the food industry deal with pandemic-related shortages of some ingredients.

Now, food manufacturers can swap out some ingredients for others, without updating the list of ingredients on food packaging.

“When we read ingredient labels, now I have to guess frankly when I put it into my cart, whether this food will ultimately be safe for my child or not,” Malawer said.

None of the eight major food allergen groups, which include peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and dairy, can be substituted without a label change.

“But there are over 170 foods that can cause life-threatening reactions,” Malawer said.

“I think a lot of people may not have even been aware of the relaxation of the guidelines,” said Dr. Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, a pediatric allergist.

Dr. Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo says parents need to be even more attentive to what their kids eat and watch for dangerous reactions.

“You want to read the labels but you also want to see how the child does,” she said.

The FDA says it encourages food manufacturers to post changes, even minor ones, to a product’s website or put up notices where the products are sold.

The FDA promises the relaxed guidelines will end when the public health crisis is over.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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