Food processors prevailed in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, when the panel recently tabled a tough proposal backed by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and passed a more “industry-friendly” food allergen-labeling bill. Kennedy’s bill would have required food processors to implement prescriptive labeling formatting and would have imposed civil financial penalties for violations.

The new measure, passed with bipartisan backing, would require that food product labels declare in plain English all major food allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans) contained in the product, including flavors, colors, spices and incidental additives.

It would become effective on January 1, 2006. If a product is not labeled properly by that date, the FDA can deem it misbranded, and the food could be subject to recall. The measure now moves to the full Senate floor for consideration.