Tis the season of holiday parties and social events riddled with food. For 150 million of us, worldwide, with food allergies this season can be one of the most depressing. We want nothing more than to be surrounded with all of the holiday cheer we can, yet often times we are left starving or feeling unsafe as we step outside of our kitchens and into the world of social food- unlabled and unregulated. The average food service professional doesn't understand food allergies yet alone the average socialite preparing meals or ordering up a caterer and forget about pot luck food socials (we rarely ever know or trust what ingredients are in those foods.)
The food allergy community continues to ask and beg for better food labeling. Even the normal consumer wants to know what is in their food, according to RestaurantNews.com- the #1 Trend right now is: "Convince me it’s real: Consumers want assurances that what they’re eating is real—in every sense of the word. Today’s menus describe items far more thoroughly, listing not only the ingredients but also where they came from and how they were prepared........."
What most restaurants don't understand is why consumers are asking these questions. Often times people will ask what's in this because they have a food intolerance, a food allergy, a special dietary concern. What consumers also know is the food industry has very little knowledge about the food they are serving, where it is coming from or what ingredients or sub component ingredients it may have (usually). Consumers are more educated about food than ever before thanks to the vast information made available on different sources of social media and the internet. Consumers have also come to understand that food really is impacting them in every way. Knowing what is in our food makes for an even more wonderful dining expierence.
While there are more and more people counting colories and looking for nutritional lablels, the food allergic community doesn't care so much about colorie counts as much as if they are able to eat these food products. These consumers are constantly putting products back on the shelf when they see the words, "natural flavoring." With over 160 foods known to cause allergic reactions those words could be deadly or make someone extrodinarily ill for weeks on end. Natural flavoring could include citrus, vanilla, mustard, seed extract, oils. Castoreum, neotame, crushed beavers, carrageenan and citric acid and many more. This even applies to cosmetic industry such things as lotions, shampoos, conditioners, makeup, creams, facewash can contain sesame seed, citrus, almond, milk, wheat (all top 10 allergens in the U.S). Labeling needs to be better regulated and required by the FDA in the U.S. and product manufacturers equally need to understand the damage that can be done.
Please consider signing this petition: http://wh.gov/lKC0g and sharing with others. It could save lives and help bring down over 300,000 hospitalizations that occur per year in the U.S, due to allergic reactions. It will not only help save lives, but also help others make informed decisions and be more aware of what ingredients they are providing or serving to those with food allergies. It may also help the food industry sell more items that would not be purchased by many because of the fear of the unknown words "natural flavoring."
Besides signing a petition to help those with food allergies this holiday season, consider providing small labled placeholders with each prepared dish. For example if roasted chicken is on the menu- place a card that says, "Roasted Chicken: Olive Oil, rosemary, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar."
To contact Food Allergy Gal, click here.
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