By Darren Buford
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, June/July 2001.
Casein? Albumin? If you’re like most Americans, you have no idea what these formal words mean. But if you’re one of 7 million Americans who suffer from food allergies, you’re probably quite aware these terms refer to milk and eggs, respectively. The problem? According to a recent investigation by the Food and Drug Administration, 25 percent of manufacturers investigated failed not only to list the formal names of these and other common allergens, they do not list all the ingredients found in their products whatsoever. Such mislabeling can prove potentially fatal to those who suffer from allergic reactions to such common ingredients as nuts or eggs.
In association with state regulators in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the FDA recently underwent a two-year inspection of 85 companies most likely to have hidden allergens in their products. These companies ranged from candy makers to bakeries to ice cream manufacturers. Among the findings the study produced, 11 percent of the manufacturer’s products tested had eggs that were not listed in the ingredients, and 25 percent had peanuts that were not listed in the ingredients. According to the study, these ingredients were not deliberately added, but found their way into the product because utensils had been used for multiple mixes, or there was a failure to properly clean cooking apparatuses. Unfortunately, each year more than 30,000 people are hospitalized because of allergic reactions to food, and as many as 200 of those die. Trace amounts (as little as one five-thousandth of a teaspoon) can cause a reaction almost immediately.