Tuesday, September 28, 2010

'Natural Flavoring' can contain food allergens

Natural flavoring is a "catch all" term used on food labels and merits special scrutiny for those of us reading labels for a food allergic child.

According to the current U.S. F.D.A. food labeling regulations:
"The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."

The new labeling law effective in 2006, The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), requires manufacturers to declare if one or more of the 8 major food allergens are contained in a natural flavoring. The top 8 major food allergens are defined as: milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans.

If you are managing food allergies other than the top 8 major food allergens, however, the new law will not be of assistance to you in identifying the sources in any natural flavoring stated on a label.

In conclusion:
  • Natural flavoring can be derived from just about anything made from a natural source! Major allergens like peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, wheat, fish and seafood can hide in natural flavorings as can countless other food-derived flavorings derived from other "natural" sources.
  • New product labeling after 2006 will help with products that contain natural flavoring derived from the top 8 major allergens, but some old packages may still be on the shelves from 2005 and will not contain the updated labeling requirements.
  • For allergens other than the top 8 major food allergens, don't make any assumptions about the safety of natural flavoring; be sure to check with the manufacturer to be sure it is safe for your child's unique allergy issues.
From Kids with Food Allergies.
Reference: Food and Drug Administration. (2004). Foods; labeling of spices, flavorings, colorings and chemical preservatives. In Food Labeling. (21CFR101.22). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access. Retrieved June 7, 2005 from: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/12feb20041500/edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/aprqtr/21cfr101.22.htm

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