LOS ANGELES — More awareness and education is necessary to assist consumers with food allergies in their purchasing decisions, according to results from a survey presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting.
Researchers at Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) and Food Allergy Canada surveyed 6,684 participants with food allergies on their or their caregiver’s purchasing behaviors in response to different food allergen labels in the United States and Canada. Multiple logistic regression models were used to evaluate the relationship between the participants’ country of origin, severity of previous reactions, and purchasing behaviors.
Data from the survey showed 11% of participants purchased foods stating “may contain allergen” and 40% purchased foods stating “manufactured in a facility that also processes allergen.”
The researchers found that 29% of respondents reported being unaware that the law requires labeling of major allergens, while 46% were either unsure or incorrectly believed that precautionary allergen label is required by law. The probabilities of purchasing foods using precautionary allergen label was reduced for consumers who previously endured a severe allergic reaction.
“Our findings clearly showed that many in the food allergy community are purchasing products despite the presence of precautionary statements on the product label,” Mary Jane Marchisotto, senior vice president of research at FARE, told Healio.com/Allergy. “Due to the risk for allergic reaction and the data that have been gathered on the unintended presence of allergens in certain processed foods, FARE recommends avoiding products with ‘may contain,’ ‘made in the same facility,’ ‘made on shared equipment’ and similar statements.”
Mary Jane Marchisotto
Furthermore, the researchers observed that 10% to 40% of participants reported buying products with precautionary allergen label. The purchasing behaviors of consumers varied by country and previous reaction severity.
“Additionally, some consumers are unaware that companies are not required by law to include such warnings of the potential for cross-contact, demonstrating the need for improved awareness and education,” Marchisotto said. — by Alaina Tedesco
Reference: Marchisotto MJ, et al. Abstract 268. Presented at: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting; March 4-7, 2016; Los Angeles.
Disclosure: Food Allergy Canada (was Anaphylaxis Canada), Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, Anaphylaxis Campaign (UK), German Allergy and Asthma Association, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), and Mylan funded this research.