FDA approves food label linking peanut introduction to reduced allergy risk
The FDA announced today that, for the first time, it has approved a petition for a qualified health claim linking early peanut introduction and the prevention of peanut allergy to be displayed on products containing ground peanuts.
The FDA based its decision on guidelines issued by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases earlier this year — along with findings from the 2015 LEAP study — that introducing peanut-containing foods early in infancy may reduce the risk for allergy.
“Along with the information that you currently see on food labels, which disclose when a food contains peanuts or peanut residue, the new advice about the early introduction to peanuts and reduced risk of developing peanut allergy will soon be found on the labels of some foods containing ground peanuts that are suitable for infant consumption,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a statement. “This is the first time the FDA has recognized a qualified health claim to prevent a food allergy.”
According to the FDA, from 1997 to 2008, the prevalence of peanut allergy more than doubled — a statistic that prompted many primary care providers to advise against the introducing peanut-containing food to children aged younger than 3 years who were at high risk for peanut allergy. However, the new NIAD guidelines recommend that infants at high risk for developing peanut allergy because of a diagnosis of severe eczema or egg allergy be introduced to peanut-containing foods at 4 to 6 months to reduce development risk.
The approved qualified health claim will state that “for most infants with severe eczema and/or egg allergy who are already eating solid foods, introducing foods containing ground peanuts between 4 and 10 months of age and continuing consumption may reduce the risk of developing peanut allergy by 5 years of age.”
“The new claim on food labels will recommend that parents check with their infant’s health care provider before introducing foods containing ground peanuts,” Gottlieb said in the statement. “It will also note that the claim is based on one study. The FDA will continue to monitor the research related to peanut allergy. If new scientific information further informs what we know about peanut allergy, the FDA will evaluate whether the claim should be updated.”