HealthDay News — According to a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, shoppers are often confused by food labels that warn of potential allergens and the consequences can be serious.

Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, a pediatrician at the Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and colleagues conducted an online survey of 6684 respondents in the United States and Canada. 

Those answering the questions either had a food allergy, had someone in the family who did or they were a parent or caregiver of someone with a food allergy and bought food for that person.

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The researchers found that about half (46%) of the survey respondents thought precautionary labels are required by law. One-third (37%) thought such labels were based on the amounts of an allergen that might be present in a food product. About 40% of shoppers dealing with food allergies bought products with precautionary labels.

Precautionary labels can state that either a product “may contain” a specific allergen or a food is “manufactured in a facility” that has products containing a specific allergen. The 2 labels are equally dangerous, Gupta told HealthDay

The amount of allergen required to trigger a reaction varies from person to person, so it’s impossible to know if a product that says “may contain” a specific allergen will prove dangerous or not, she said.


Confusing Food Labels Place Consumers with Food Allergy at Risk [press release]. Chicago, IL: Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; November 1, 2016.

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