Reading food labels is one of the most important things I do to protect Mac from accidentally consuming a product containing eggs or nuts. After 7 years of this, I have my go to products that I buy over and over. I still glance at the label to make sure nothing has changed.
When we first discovered Mac’s allergies, I was always second guessing myself and worried I was going to miss an ingredient and buy the wrong thing. My confidence has grown over the years and it really is pretty easy to check the labels.
This is a great skill for anyone to know, because you may find yourself with a coworker, friend or a classmate of your child that has food allergies. I always appreciate it when parents of Mac’s classmates reach out to me to check if the birthday treat they are sending to school is ok for Mac to have, too!
So first off, at this time there are 8 major food allergy categories that are required to be highlighted on food labels. If nothing is highlighted, I do generally scan through the full ingredient list, just in case. These are the 8 major allergens.
I’m going to divide the parts of the label into 3 categories. Labels may have 1, 2 or all of these categories present at the same time.
The first category is the really important one! Noted in red in the pictures, it’s the ‘Contains’ section. This is where you will find a list of all of the Major Food Allergens the product contains. So in my case, if this section says ‘Eggs’, ‘Peanuts’ or ‘Tree Nuts’, then that product is not safe for Mac to consume.
The second category, noted in yellow, is the ‘May Contain’ section. This area lists all of the Major Food Allergens that the product might contain, but most likely doesn’t. In most cases it means the factory that produces the product also produces a product containing an allergen, but the allergen is not present in product in hand. I think of it as an insurance policy for the company that makes the product. In Mac’s case, these products are safe for him to consume. That is not the case for everyone so its best to check with the person (or parent of the person) you are concerned about!
The third category will always be present. Noted in green you will see the Full Ingredients List. This is a listing of all ingredients in the product. If this is all that is present, generally that means there are no allergy concerns. I do always skim this list if there is no ‘Contains’ or ‘May Contain’ sections present. Its better to be safe than sorry!
Please note that this is not intended to be medical advice.
Go check out those food labels!
Talk to you soon,