Understanding Food Labels to Avoid Food Allergens

understanding-food-labels

The mission of Minnie’s Food Pantry is to provide healthy meals, educational resources, and red-carpet treatment to families in need.

For individuals with food allergies, it can be difficult to find foods that are free of allergens. f you or someone is your family has food allergies, here are things to consider when accessing food at a food bank or pantry.

  • Review original food packaging yourself so you can read the labels. Know the importance of reading every label, every time, as ingredients can change without warning.
  • If you do not have a written treatment plan outlining the steps to recognize and treat a severe allergic reaction, consider downloading one from Food Allergy Research & Education at www.foodallergy.org

Understanding labels

Manufacturers of packaged food products that contain a major food allergen (milk, wheat, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, and soy) are required by law to list that allergen on the product label. Specifically, for fish, shellfish, and nuts, the specific type of allergen must be listed (ex: crab, salmon, pecans). However, there are several locations where the allergen can be listed on the product, so read all product labels carefully, including the full ingredient list. Additionally, common allergens can have other names (ex: whey and casein are milk-containing ingredients), but the main allergen must always be listed.

Tips to avoid cross-contact

  • Use utensils, cutting boards, and pans that have been thoroughly washed with soap and water. Consider using separate utensils and dishes for making and serving safe foods. Some families choose a different color to identify the safe kitchen tools.
  • If you are making several foods, cook the allergy-safe foods first.
  • Keep the safe foods covered and away from other foods that may splatter.
  • If you make a mistake, you can’t just remove an allergen from a meal. Even a small amount of cross-contact makes a food unsafe.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before touching anything else if you have handled a food allergen. Soap and water or commercial wipes will remove a food allergen. Sanitizing gels or water alone will not remove an allergen.
  • Scrub down counters and tables with soap and water after making meals.
  • Do not share food, drinks or utensils. Teach children not to share these when they are at school or with friends.

Download Substitutes for Common Allergens

Blog post was written by Shreya Saxena

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