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Parents worry about kids with allergies after FDA temporarily relaxes food-labeling rules

Local News

The next time you go shopping for your favorite food, you may want to double-check that the ingredients aren’t different.

Because of the pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration has made a change to how food labels are handled, and it has some parents of kids with food allergies worried.

Stacey Davis is a daycare provider in Minot, and many of the children she cares for have food allergies. It can be a challenge shopping for approved foods.

“Traditionally we prepare the food in house, and we have to know what we are serving those children,” said Davis, owner of Juniper Child Care, LLC.

But now that task may get even tougher.

The FDA has temporarily relaxed food labeling guidelines to help slow down the high demand for some ingredients. Food manufacturers can now change out some of those ingredients and don’t have to mark the changes on the labels.

Davis added, “I understand living in an agricultural state and that farmers are going through a tough time like a lot of us are, but this seems like an inappropriate solution. Especially when we are talking about consumer awareness and being able to make informed decisions about health.”

She also has to worry about her own child, who just started an elimination diet. And although none of the eight major food allergen groups, like peanuts, shellfish and dairy, can be substituted without a label change, one allergist says there is still a long list of potential foods that could cause a reaction.

“Obviously, these eight major food allergens account for about 90 percent of food allergies in the U.S., there is also the other 10 percent, so there are a lot of other things the people could be allergic too,” said Dr. Nana Fenny, with Sanford Health.

Dr. Fenny says parents need to be even more attentive to what their kids eat and watch for dangerous reactions.

“Let’s say you buy a box of it every month, and you finish the current one, you know that box is going to have the same thing. So when you finish and buy a new box check the labels and make sure nothing has changed,” added Dr. Fenny.

The FDA says it encourages food manufacturers to share changes on their website or post notices where the products are sold.

As for Davis, she still doesn’t think that is enough.

“It makes me extremely nervous because their health is in my hands,” added Davis.

The FDA says the relaxed guidelines will end when the pandemic is over.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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