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Meal Pattern Minute: Identifying Allergens on Food Packaging

May 17, 2024

The Food & Drug Administration enforces the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004, which identified the first eight major food allergens along with the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research Act declaring the ninth major food allergen, sesame. The FALCPA requires that manufacturers identify the food source names of all major food allergens used in the food by adding additional information on the food package to let consumers know if one of the food allergens is present. But where can a CACFP provider or sponsor find this information on the food product? 

 It only takes a minute to find out! Tune in to this Meal Pattern Minute, where Isabel Ramos-Lebron, MS, RDN,  LD, discusses two ways that manufacturers can label major food allergens on their products. Keep in mind, only the nine major food allergens are required to be reported as an allergen on the food product. 

Find more information on locating and identifying food allergens on a food label by reviewing the resources below. 

  • Food Allergies: What You Need to Know
    • How Major Food Allergens Are Listed 
    • FALCPA requires that food labels identify the food source names of all major food allergens used to make the food. This requirement is met if the common or usual name of an ingredient (e.g., buttermilk) that is a major food allergen already identifies that allergen’s food source name (i.e., milk). Otherwise, the allergen’s food source name must be declared at least once on the food label in one of two ways: 
      1. In parentheses following the name of the ingredient in the ingredient list.
        Examples: “lecithin (soy),” “flour (wheat),” and “whey (milk)”
      2. Immediately after or next to the list of ingredients in a “contains” statement.
        Example: “Contains Wheat, Milk, and Soy.” 
  •  Food Allergies – USDA Technical Assistance & Guidance
    • FNS’s Office of Food Safety works collaboratively with the Institute of Child Nutrition to develop and provide food safety resources for child nutrition professionals including food allergy training and best practices fact sheets and posters. 
  • Webinar: Common Allergens and Reading the Food Label
    • Discover the top nine food allergens and learn to recognize what food products contain these. Get a better understanding of how to read the food label to identify and avoid food allergens.  
      • Become familiar with the top nine food allergens. 
      • Learn how to read the Nutrition Facts Label. 
      • Identify food allergens from the ingredient list. 

Did you know that may of our recipes are allergen friendly? Pay a visit to and find not only recipes but menus to provide new ideas to your menu.


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