FAIRFAX, Va. – For the parents of more than 3 million American children with food allergies, the biggest Halloween trick is figuring out which treats are safe. With more than 30 different "may contain"-type messages on ingredient labels, parents are becoming increasingly confused and frustrated. Parents are advised to avoid products with "may contain" labeling statements, but with so many of these products on the market, food choices are becoming uncomfortably limited. In addition, some products carry labels that are confusing and even unbelievable. A bag of gummy bears states, "May contain peanuts and/or trace amounts of allergens not listed in the ingredients" (how are parents to know what those allergens are?).
A package of candy corn states, "May contain peanuts, tree nuts, sunflower seeds, milk, soy, eggs, and wheat" (can all of these ingredients really be in candy corn?).
Lab analyses have shown that some products with "may contain" statements really do contain allergens. So there is a potential risk when ignoring these statements. "The problem consumers are having is that there is no way to determine which labels are truthful," says Anne Munoz-Furlong, founder and CEO of the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). "We look forward to the day when kids can go trick-or-treating and trust the information on the ingredient label."
Until then, FAAN urges consumers with food allergies not to ignore "may contain" labels. Families managing food allergies can follow these simple steps for a safe Halloween:
- Read ingredient statements for all candy.
- Give the treats your child cannot eat to other children.
- Have safe treats at home, and trade them for candies that can't be eaten.
For more Halloween information, visit www.foodallergy.org.
Founded in 1991, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) is the world leader in information about food allergy, a potentially fatal condition that afflicts about 12 million Americans, or one out of every 25. A nonprofit organization based in Fairfax, Va., FAAN has 30,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and 62 other countries. It is dedicated to increasing public awareness of food allergy and its consequences, to educating people about the condition, and to advancing research on behalf of all those affected by it. FAAN provides information and educational resources about food allergy to patients, their families, schools, health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, the food industry, and government officials. For more information, please visit FAAN at www.foodallergy.org, www.faankids.org, and www.faanteen.org.