How to List Allergens on Food Container Labels

It’s right before close on a Saturday night when you get the phone call—a customer of yours ended up in the hospital from eating mislabeled food….at your restaurant. Had your business used a system that created clear and distinct food labels that you yourself designed, the situation might’ve played out differently. Whether you’re striving to keep customers safe or the health inspector happy, having an efficient food labeling system is paramount to success.

Recognizing the “Big Eight” Food Allergens

People in the food industry often refer to the main food allergies as the “big eight.” These allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. According to Food Safety Magazine, these eight foods account for 90% of allergic reactions related to foods. They are also the ingredients the FDA requires restaurants and foodservice industries to identify.

Listing Ingredients

In 2004, the FDA began regulating the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA).  The act requires that American food distributors declare potential food allergens on a label in one of two ways.

For example, if a food contains whey, it can include “whey (milk)” on the ingredients list. Or a label can include it after the list of ingredients as a separate “Contains: milk” warning. This might not seem like much of a difference, but the differentiation allows for broader packaging.

The FALCPA made a final ruling on gluten-free declarations in 2013. Any foods may use the gluten-free claim, so long as the food contains less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten products. Additionally, foods that do not contain gluten may use the “gluten-free” claim, even if the recipe or food itself inherently does not contain gluten. It is perfectly acceptable to advertise food as being gluten-free just for the sake of appealing to those who are worried about their gluten intake. More and more, gluten-free foods are desirable not just for those who have celiac disease but for those wishing to adopt gluten-free eating habits.

Looking for a Labeling Solution?

Creating a compliant and safe label for food is always important, but replicating a food label over and over can be difficult. Our DateCodeGenie® devices can help simplify and automate the labeling process. DateCodeGenie devices provide access to premade label templates, recipes, training materials, interactive user content, a custom label designer, and other applications your business may need to automate its labeling system. Contact us to learn more.