News: New food labels for SA


eck new food labels for "hidden" food allergens

By: Mariska Fouche

24 May 2012 15:58Submit a commentBizLike

SA`s recently passed food labelling regulations will make consumers more informed about their food choices, particularly when it comes to allergens, such as soya, dairy, nuts, eggs and shellfish; however allergens may be lurking in labels under unfamiliar names.

Consumers need to be on the lookout for hidden allergens that might not be as obvious. The new labelling regulations will certainly allow consumers to identify common allergens, if they know what to look for.

When shopping for food:

•Read the entire label and if you`re not sure of every ingredient that went into a cooked item, don`t eat it!
•Read each ingredient on the label, paying special attention to bold-faced items, parentheses and items listed below the complete list of ingredients.
•For processed foods (anything that is made from more than one ingredient), check the label for a warning that the food was made in a factory where your allergens may have been used on the same manufacturing lines.
•The food industry often uses alternative names for common allergens, which the average consumer might not be aware of. The higher up the list of ingredients they are found, the greater proportion they form of the food product or meal. Learn the lists of ingredients that might specify hidden food allergens indicated in the table below.

Food allergen: Egg
Common alternative names: Albumin, binder, coagulant, emulsifier, globulin, lecithin, livetin, lysozyme, ovalbumin, ovomucin, ovomucoid, ovovittelin, vitellin.

Food allergen: Milk
Common alternative names: Artificial butter flavour, butter, butter fat, buttermilk solids, caramel colour, caramel flavouring, casein, caseinate, cheese, cream curds, delactosed whey, dry milk solids, high protein flavour, lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, lactose, milk derivative, milk solids, natural flavouring, rennet casein, sour cream, sour milk solids, whey, whey powder, whey protein concentrate.

Food allergen: Soy
Common alternative names: Bulking agent, emulsifier, hydrolysed vegetable protein, lecithin, miso, MSG, monosodium glutamate, protein, protein extended, stabiliser, textured vegetable protein, thickener, tofu, vegetable broth, vegetable gum, vegetable starch.

Food allergen: Wheat
Common alternative names: All-purpose flour, flour, bulgur, bran, corn starch, couscous, durum wheat / flour, farina, gelatinised starch, gluten, graham flour, kamut, malt, miller`s bran, modified starch, semolina, spelt, starch, vegetable gum, vegetable starch, white flour.

Many processed foods contain additives like preservatives, colourants, sweeteners, stabilisers, flavourants, emulsifiers, curing agents, nutrients and anti-oxidants. The new legislation states that tartrazine, a colourant added to some green, yellow and orange foods, must be clearly labelled as such (it is also known as E102 or yellow no. 5 on some imported foods), while MSG (monosodium glutamate) must also carry its common name.

International research shows that the prevalence of peanut allergy has nearly doubled over the past decade, and there is a steady increase in the number of people allergic to less "traditional" foods, such as kiwi fruit, sesame seeds and lupin flour, a low-GI, high-protein and energy flour.

Alarming rise in childrens` allergies

We are also seeing an alarming rise in the number of children who are allergic to several kinds of foods. Up to 25 percent of children who suffer from eczema now also suffer from severe food allergies. Food allergies can be very dangerous and we suggest that all consumers, especially parents, use the new food labels to check for potential allergens and learn the different names food producers use to describe ingredients.

Food allergy sufferers display many symptoms, which usually occur within 30 minutes of eating an allergen, but could also manifest themselves four to six hours later. The most common symptoms include lip swelling, sudden rash or hives, vomiting, diarrhoea, an itchy throat or mouth, wheezing or, in severe cases, sufferers could go into anaphylactic shock. In any of these cases it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

The new food labels are an important tool for shopping and eating healthily, as food allergies can be very effectively managed by limiting your consumption of known allergens.

For more information on allergies, go to



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