I'm frustrated, hurt, angry, and confused yet determined, passionate, resilient, and strong. There are 32 million Americans with food allergies. I am one of them. True, a large number of us fall into the top 8 category, but many of us have multiple food allergies or allergies outside of those 8 ingredients. You have bent the rules. They have been twisted as food manufacturers are able to swap ingredients without a label change or notification. I understand the hardships of COVID-19 as they are having an effect on every person and industry. I do not understand this new guideline.
According to the new "Temporary Policy Regarding Certain Food Labeling," new ingredients can be present as up to 2% of the product's weight. While 2% of a product may seem like a small number to you, it is life or death for 32 million Americans. That undisclosed 2% could cause anaphylaxis, epinephrine, and a hospital visit, or worse. You are putting these lives at risk through your actions. People can be allergic to any ingredient, not just the Top 8.
To the members of the FDA, I will try to help you understand the effects of your actions. This is not as simple as a few people no longer purchasing products. This puts every food allergy sufferer, parent, colleague, and friend back to square one. I pose to you some questions, as our community needs answers. How will you ensure that the company representatives have the new updated manufacturing information to provide to consumers? How will consumers know which version of a product they are buying? Are companies allowed to switch multiple times using all different ingredients? How will we ever trust food labels again?
Finally, do you understand the severity of food allergies?
My goal is clear. I am asking for clarity for me and the 32 million other Americans who are panicking tonight. You can make the change. Provide updated guidelines, or at the very least, clarifications. Require manufacturers to slap a sticker on the box with any updated ingredients, as any ingredients could be a major allergen to an individual.
Changing to go against our community was not hard, so how challenging could the solution be?