Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hidden Allergens Seldom Recalled

In the last few weeks Vegan Rella Cheddar Block, Wegmans Italian Classics Seasoned Tomato Sauce, and muffin tops from Seattle's Favorite Gourmet Cookies & Dessert Co. have all been recalled by the FDA because they turned out to contain undeclared milk products.

They're small pieces of a bigger problem. Many products marketed and targeted at children, including big names like Oreos, Pop-Tarts, Frosted Flakes, Jello-O and Campbell's SpaghettiOs, have been recalled for hidden allergens in recent years.

The Chicago Tribune did a major investigative piece on this issue, titled "Children at risk in food roulette." They found that an average of five products a week are recalled because of hidden allergens. And the government does not take action even against repeat offenders.

Nor do a significant number of parental complaints result in recalls:

The Tribune examined 260 complaints to the FDA since 2001 where people with known food allergies--many of them children who had to be treated at hospitals--reported a reaction from products they claimed were mislabeled. Yet just 7 percent resulted in recalls.

Even when authorities concluded a product was at fault, the regulatory wheels moved slowly. On average, it took 32 days to issue a recall.

The article is worth reading in full.

In addition:
To determine the full scope of the problem, the Tribune created an unprecedented computer database of 2,800 recalls related to food allergies over the last 10 years.

You can search the database by clicking here.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For a company that is so "safe" when it comes to allergens, I am surprised by Enjoy Life Foods company's use of the hidden ingredient term "Natural Flavor" in some of their products. Anything at all could be used under that term. It makes me trust them less overall. I contacted them about this but the ingredients under "Natural Flavor" are proprietary. You can ask if a specific ingredient is used and they will answer that, but that is no help if in the future the ingredients used under "Natural Flavor" changes. No one would know.