img 610-363-0907
img 108 John Robert Thomas Dr. Exton, PA 19341
Hidden Food Allergy and Food Labeling

Hidden food allergens:

People with food allergies should be aware of hidden food allergens to make sure they avoid an allergic reaction.

However, there are many ways in which allergic individuals can be exposed to their allergy without even coming in direct contact with the allergic substance. People with food allergies should be particularly careful at schools, restaurants, or bakeries.

Potential “hidden” sources of food allergens

  • Cross-Contact

  • Serving utensils

  • Food manufacturing equipment

  • Handling of foods

  • Ingredient switching

  • Cross–reactivity

  • Allergenic foods not covered by the FALCPA rules.

  • Undeclared allergenic foods

  • Loopholes in labeling regulations

  • Contamination of foods with allergens not intended to be in foods

  • Additives

  • Preservatives

  • Antigenic substances

Mislabeled or Undeclared Allergenic Food

This can occur intentionally, when one ingredient is exchanged for another, or unintentionally through cross-contact that can occur through food handlers, serving utensils, or food manufacturing equipments.

Peanut is used in oriental cooking as a flavoring or as adhesive to “Glue down “egg rolls. Peanut protein concealed in pizza sauces.

Latex gloves worn by food handlers can leach into food and cause a reaction in latex allergic individuals.

The FDA conducted a review of baked goods, ice cream and candy in two states, finding 25% failure labeling of peanuts or egg as ingredients.

Dust mite ingestion and anaphylaxis from boxed food contaminated with dust mites have been reported, pancake mix is an example.

Recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts can be accessed on the FDA website ( and on the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network site (

Food Labeling

  • Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA): Food labels sometime contain unfamiliar or derivatives of major food allergens.  This lead to congressional enactment of (FALCPA) requiring food manufacturers to disclose in plain language whether the packaged food product contains one the top eight allergic foods including: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean (shrimp, crab, lobster, crawfish), soy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat.  Additionally the manufacturer has to specify which seafood or nut.
  • Exempt from the (FALCPA): Agricultural commodities (Fresh fruits and vegetable); highly refined oils, meat, poultry, and egg.
  • Food exempt under petition or notification process:For example defining the minimal amount of allergic food in the package that requires it to be listed on the label.
  • Other limitations: It does not address advisory labeling such as “may contain” or “processed in a facicilty that also processes (e.g. peanut).

  • Foods being considered to require labeling: Sesame, poppy, sunflower, and mustard seeds.
Labels That May Indicate Presence of major allergerns

Food additives shown to cause adverse reactions

  • Preservatives:  Sulfites, benzoates, citrates, and parabens.
  • Filler and thickeners:  Vegetable gum, Arabic gum.
  • Antioxidants:  Butylated hydroxyl anisol (BHA).
  • Other: Flavorings and dyes.

Cross reactions

  • Foods which cross react with other food: e.g. peanut cross reacts with legumes, crustaceans cross react with each other, and tree nuts cross react with each other.
  • Foods which cross react with non-food substances:e.g. Tree pollens cross react with tree fruits and tree nuts.  Grasses cross react with some grains. Ragweed cross react with melon and cantaloupe. Latex cross react with topical vegetations like banana, kiwi, avocado and chestnut.