Food allergies are no joke. In fact, they send around 200,000 people to the emergency room every single year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. What's more, children are much more likely to suffer from food allergies than adults.
This means that kids are the ones who are most at risk, and as such a movement has grown to protect people from inadvertently eating something they're allergic to. This increasing concern about the alarming reality of food allergies is moving into the mainstream, which is causing many consumers to more carefully read the labeling on their products.
Therefore, it's up to companies to provide accurate and easily readable ingredient lists.
There's a Movement Here
For some, consumption of an allergen can literally kill. This was the case of Joanna Salmingo, a 30-year-old woman who died as the result of accidentally eating tree nuts. Technically, she ate cashew milk, which was one of the ingredients of Japanese mochi. It was a tragic misunderstanding that rocked her family.
Despite what must have been an enormous burden of grief, the Salmingo family decided that they would tell Joanna's story in an effort to encourage a wider awareness of food allergies. They have multiple goals in this regard, but one point they focus on is labeling.
The mochi in the store Joanna went to were in a display that allowed customers to grab as many as they wanted. Therefore, the makers aren't required by law to label every ingredient. While there was a card stating that the store couldn't guarantee tree nuts weren't used, the Salmingo family believes this card was easily dismissed by customers. They hope they can get consumers to pay more attention while also having companies display this information more prominently.
Labelers Must Avoid Mistakes
The importance of the allergy awareness movement simply cannot be ignored. Setting aside the clear danger unlabeled allergens place on the consumer, they also could create a nightmare of extra work for a company. According to the Miami Herald, Meijer Taco Seasoning was recently recalled due to a labeling mistake. Apparently, the seasoning contained milk without displaying this in the ingredients.
While no one seems to have been harmed, as this recall was considered "preemptive" by the manufacturer, it does show the amount of concern that people have when it comes to food allergies. It's important for labelers to recognize their role in the safety of their consumers.