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Experts Push for Rewrites to Food Allergy Labels

Allergy warnings are often ambiguous and don't convey risk to consumers.

There might be some changes coming to food labels, if a few scientists have anything to say about it.

Experts from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine issued a report urging those in the food industry to update their labels to make it more clear to consumers their risk for coming in contact with common food allergens, according to the Associated Press.

The scientists argue that current labels such as "may contain traces of" or "made in the same factory as" don't do enough to alert consumers to their degree of risk by consuming a product, the Associated Press reported. 

Those who are worried about the danger this poses to shoppers are pushing for the Federal Drug Administration to enforce a single warning label that adequately conveys the risk consumers are taking by buying a certain product, according to Chicago Tonight. Current FDA standards require food labels to identify the eight most common food allergens: eggs, fish, milk, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soybeans.

Although many labels are worded differently, they do not indicate the risk of coming into contact with a particular food allergen, according to Chicago Tonight. But many consumers believe food labels identify allergy risk based on the words used, the source noted.

Despite the confusion among consumers about the meanings of different food labels, 40 percent still buy products labeled with an allergy warning that might affect them, according to a survey in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

In addition to clarifying allergen labels, the panel from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine also recommended beefing up allergy education for consumers and devising better training for restaurant personnel who deal with food allergens regularly, according to the Associated Press.

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