Here is part two of our Label Reading episodes! This second part focuses on non-top-8 food allergens.


Main Topic(s)

  • What are the Top 8 (quick recap)
    • All of these are required by law to be identified on food labels
  • Non-top-8 Allergens are not required to be called out specifically on labels
    • This makes label reading a bit trickier as allergens could be hidden in a few additional places
  • Common places for allergens to hide:
    • “Natural Flavors”
      • A catch-all term for any natural ingredient presents risks especially for seeds and fruit allergies
    • “Spices”
      • Similar to natural flavors, but can contain multiple mixtures of spices (e.g. Italian bread crumbs)
    • “Modified Food Starch” – Can take multiple forms
      • Wheat
      • Corn
      • Potato
      • Tapioca
      • Rice
      • Mostly used as binders in foods
  • Calling Manufacturers
    • Not all Manufacturers will respond the same
    • The WAY you ask questions is important (especially with companies that have proprietary recipes)
      • Have your product/label with the ingredients in front of you when you call
      • Explain you’re a FA Parent and ask them to write down the list of allergens you’re going to give them
      • Repetition of your allergy list the same way every time can help with memory
      • Have specific questions about ingredients
      • If proprietary, ask if they can tell you if your specific allergens are in it
      • Guage how quickly they can access/know the info about their product
        • Product awareness
        • Good/accurate usable info
        • Can indicate if this is a company you want to continue to buy from
      • Honesty about their ability to guarantee safety with their ingredients/products
  • Allergens outside the top-8 unfortunately usually means more work and fewer options. If you’re unsure, don’t try it.
  • If you don’t know what an ingredient is, LOOK IT UP!
    • As we mentioned in the last episode, there are numerous names for food allergens
    • Consult FARE’s resource for a great list and info about alternative names
    • Google search can also be helpful if you’re looking for one specific ingredient name
  • Natural foods often contain seeds or seed oils
    • Not all oils are highly refined and any food proteins left in the oils can make it unsafe to consume


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John is one half of the team here at The Art of Allergies. Your typical mild-mannered IT Manager, and Full-Time Allergy Dad. He also loves all things technology. Together with Linda, John enjoys helping new and first-time allergy parents navigate through it all.

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