December 14, 2018

Undeclared Allergens the Leading Source of USDA Recalls for 5th Straight Year

Undeclared allergens were the leading cause of USDA recalls in 2014, the fifth straight year that they have held the title. Of the 94 recalls, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued last year, 43 were for undeclared allergens.

In its breakdown of sources for recalls, the USDA groups all undeclared allergens together, whereas bacterial sources of recalls, such as E.coli, Salmonella and Listeria are listed separately along. Other categories include: extraneous material, processing defect, undeclared substance and other.

usdaartThese USDA considers the wheat, soy, eggs, milk, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, soybeans and fish “the big eight” allergens. About 2 percent of adults and 5 percent of children have allergies.  Those with severe allergies experience anaphylactic shock with symptoms such as airway blockage, respiratory arrest and cardiac arrest when they eat foods containing those ingredients. There is no cure for food allergies, so avoiding allergens is the only way consumers can protect themselves from potentially severe reactions.

For this reason, food manufacturers and distributors must label any ingredients that are “major food allergens” so consumers can take appropriate action, according to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004.

Increasingly, problems with undeclared allergens are being discovered through the the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s verification program.

Increasingly, problems with undeclared allergens are being discovered through the the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s verification program. Sometimes the problem arises when a new ingredient is added to a product, when a product is reformulated, when it is placed in the wrong package or when the label is misprinted.

 

 

 

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