This is one allergy alert all in the food allergy community need to know. Please feel free to share this post!
The FDA has announced it will allow temporary changes to be made in the formulation of food products without having to update these changes on the ingredient list or label. I have included the direct link to the full FDA announcement at the end of this post.
Below is an excerpt from the FDA on the details of this new policy as of 5/25/20:
The FDA states: “the ingredient being substituted for the labeled ingredient does not cause any adverse health effect (including food allergens, gluten, sulfites, or other foods known to cause sensitivities in some people, for example, glutamates)”. There is no requirement to address the may contains or produced in a facility that contains statements as those are voluntary and are not required by the FDA.
…Substitution of certain oils may temporarily be appropriate without a label change, such as canola oil for sunflower oil, because they contain similar types of fats…
…The guidance also provides examples of existing flexibilities in food labeling regulations so that manufacturers know these are already available. One example is the flexibility to exchange spices when the label declares the generic term “spice.”
Personally, I was shocked and it took a minute to process how this would play out in my life and everyone dealing with food allergies. As having been an actual manufacturer for my allergy friendly baking mix line Cherrybrook Kitchen, I understand what the FDA is trying to do to help avoid any shortages or issues in the food chain supply. However, first and foremost I have and always will be worried about the safety.
I know this feels like the last thing we need right now. We are all trying to be safe both from COVID and the food we bring into our homes. This adds an additional stress point in our lives. During this time, I have two of each of the key items I need to cook/bake meals around my food allergies.
I have now created a new protocol for deeming a product safe. I will call the manufacturer directly and make sure I have the name, flavor, size, bar code, sell by date and any coding numbers/letters stamped on the product. I will alert them to my allergies and specifically ask does this product have any of my allergens for this particular batch/code number.
For those who are at risk of cross-contamination, you need to ask if any of your allergens were processed on the same manufacturing line and if those same allergens are (or were) present in the manufacturing plant. For an additional layer of safety, ask if the sourcing of the ingredients for your food product have been verified to be clear of cross contamination of your particular allergens.
In light of these new FDA exemptions, I realized that there will be products I cannot purchase at this time or in the near future. If I am not comfortable with the information I receive from the manufacturer then I will err on the side of safety and not purchase a product. I admit I did rant for a bit to my husband before I shifted to seeking solutions. I returned to my core skills of cooking at home, using simple ingredients and putting on my chef/food scientist wizarding hat to create recipes that replicate my missing products or dishes.
I cannot have sunflower or coconut, egg, milk, fish, shellfish or tree nuts. Yep, quite the combo. It is frustrating to lose the convenience of purchasing one of your go to allergen products. I love cooking in my kitchen and once I am in my kitchen a mindset shift becomes much easier. I will put on music (my go to is Broadway Tunes) or watch cooking shows, stand-up comedians on my computer while I am cooking. I like to create a fun and upbeat vibe in the my “workshop”. This is what lead me to create my own recipe for mayonnaise using avocado oil. You can see the recipe here for my Magical Mayo https://blog.foodallergywizards.com/magic-mayo/
I recommend you read the full article below and use all or some of my strategies or create your own custom protocol(s). I can provide you with additional support when working with food manufacturers, deciphering labels or formulating a recipe to replace a food product or dish. Just email me email@example.com, reach out on Facebook or click on our Summon A Wizard Button on our website.
- FDA Announcement On Flexibility Policy Regarding Certain Labeling Requirements For Foods: https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-constituent-updates/fda-announces-temporary-flexibility-policy-regarding-certain-labeling-requirements-foods-humans?fbclid=IwAR3udPiY6_hDHlikmGhkPO92nlGYak-pRefN1aXPQsrmVmvkMlaLFDKgXsE
- Magical Mayo Recipe: https://blog.foodallergywizards.com/magic-mayo/
- Food Allergy Wizards Website: www.foodallergywizards.com