Pandemic-Inspired Food Labeling Raises Alarms for Those With Food Allergies

As the mother of a child with food allergies, Heather Sapp was well versed in reading labels and calling manufacturers to verify ingredients. For years, she kept her daughter’s diet free of the peanuts and tree nuts that could kill her.

But when a bite of lemon-ginger hummus three years ago sent Sapp herself into life-threatening anaphylactic shock, her dependence on labeling accuracy became more complicated. Testing determined that Sapp, now 43, had developed adult-onset anaphylactic allergies to chickpeas, sesame and cilantro. More recently, Sapp, who lives in Phoenix, had an anaphylactic reaction to parsley.

None of Sapp’s allergens are among those the Food and Drug Administration requires to be individually listed on food labels. Parsley and cilantro regularly are included under “spices” or “natural flavors.” Like many Americans with food allergies, Sapp reads ingredient labels closely, often following up with a phone call to verify ingredients, and had developed

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