Food Allergy Awareness Week is upon us. So just how big of an issue are food allergies? For starters, they affect 15 million Americans. And, every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends a person to the emergency room.
For those who suffer from food allergies, navigating the grocery store is a much more complex process. Ingredient lists and “may contain” statements take on a greater meaning, and discovering allergy-safe products can feel like a victory.
How hard is it really? If you’re not well-versed in food allergies, it may not sound like such a difficult task. You may think that if, for example, you have a peanut allergy, then you need to find products that don’t mention “peanuts” on their ingredient lists. Do this and you’re set, right? Well, maybe.
We say “maybe” because it’s possible that a product that does not contain peanuts as an ingredient may, in fact, be produced in a facility or on a production line that processes peanuts. In this case, the product could contain peanuts. And that’s a big risk for someone with a peanut allergy.
We did a quick search in the Label Insight product data engine to give some color to this issue.
In the Chips and Snacks category, for example, we found that 96 percent of products are peanut free based on our ingredient analysis. Furthermore, 1 percent of products in this category include a peanut-free claim. We know this 1 percent is safe for someone with a peanut allergy. But what about the remaining 95 percent that don’t list peanuts as an ingredient, but don’t claim to be peanut free? This is a gray area, and for someone with a moderate to severe allergy, one they may avoid.
So, how can the industry help? We talk with lots of food manufacturers and retailers that want to help people with food allergies more easily find products they can eat. One way Label Insight is helping brands accomplish this is by implementing SmartLabel, which allows brands to share information beyond their packaging. SmartLabel pages have an entire section dedicated to allergy information, so it’s a great way to communicate this information.
On the flip side, we’re helping retailers get smart about their inventory by identifying products that are truly free of allergens. With this information, retailers can create allergy-friendly aisles or offer shoppers lists of allergy-friendly products to consider.
Are you a brand or retailer that wants to help consumers more easily find your allergy-friendly offerings? Let Label Insight help.Schedule a demotoday to get started.