On May 22, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relaxed labeling guidelines for food companies. This is a temporary measure because of food supply issues due to COVID-19 (the new coronavirus).
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) met with the FDA to talk about how this will affect the food allergy community. After the meeting, we organized a joint letter with other food allergy advocacy organizations to send to the FDA. The letter addresses the FDA’s short-term food labeling guidelines in response to supply chain issues and shortages brought on by COVID-19.
In our letter, we have asked the FDA to clarify these guidelines. We are also asking that the FDA require manufacturers to publicly post any substitutions they make. If food makers are required to post substitutions, this would actually be a positive step toward better food labeling.
These guidelines require manufacturers to avoid substitutions that contain other common allergens, such as sesame. Sesame is not listed in the top 8 foods under the Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). But the fact that it was included in this temporary guidance give us hope the FDA will soon add sesame to the list of ingredients that must be listed on food labels.