The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued two guidance documents about food allergen labeling requirements to help the food industry meet the requirements to list any major food allergen on the labels of FDA-regulated foods. Food labels are a powerful tool to help protect consumers with food allergies. Consumers can avoid ingredients they may be allergic or sensitive to in a food by looking for specific allergen labeling and reading the ingredient list.
One of the guidance documents is a draft guidance titled “Questions and Answers Regarding Food Allergens, Including the Food Allergen Labeling Requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (Edition 5); Guidance for Industry.” This draft guidance updates the previous edition (Edition 4) with new and revised questions and answers related to the labeling of food allergens, including requirements in the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research Act of 2021 (FASTER Act) and the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA).
The FALCPA amended the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) by defining the term “major food allergen” and requiring that foods or ingredients that contain a major food allergen be specifically labeled with the name of the allergen source. This law identified eight foods as major food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. The FASTER Act, among other things, adds sesame to the list of major food allergens effective January 1, 2023, which will make it the ninth major food allergen recognized in the U.S.
The draft guidance includes:
- New questions and answers about food allergen labeling requirements, such as the labeling of sesame, milk and eggs; the labeling of major food allergens in the labeling of dietary supplement products; and other technical labeling issues.
- Revised questions and answers to update and clarify information presented in earlier editions of the final guidance, such as the labeling of tree nuts, fish and crustacean shellfish.
- Images that show examples of labeling requirements.
The agency also issued a final guidance with the same title to preserve the questions and answers from the previous edition (Edition 4) that were not changed, except for editorial changes such as renumbering the questions and reorganizing the information in the guidance.