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Turn it Teal-Allergen Awareness Week

May 19, 2017

By Kristen Spotz, Senior Manager, Food Safety & Quality Assurance

If you were one of the million New Yorkers roaming the street of New York on Sunday evening, May 14, you might have noticed that the Empire State Building was teal.  This is to kick-off Food Allergen Awareness week which is May 14-20 and this year it celebrates its 20th anniversary.  The purpose of the efforts this week is to raise awareness about the severity of food allergies and anaphylaxis.

Food Allergies affect over 15 million Americans.  One in thirteen children in the United States have a food allergy.   Possibly, a friend, co-worker, family member or even you are affected by food allergens.  Because the presence of allergens in foods is such a significant safety issue, GMA’s member companies take the management of food allergens throughout the supply chain very seriously and are committed to meeting the needs of the food allergic community.

Maintaining an open dialogue between manufacturers and the food allergic community continues to be a top priority for our companies.  This year’s GMA Science Forum in Washington D.C. featured a session on allergens and consumer perspectives where consumer groups representing the food allergic community had the opportunity to dialogue with leading food manufacturers about their brands and to provide candid feedback on some opportunities for improvement.  To learn more about this session and the engaging dialogue visit the Grateful Foodie’s blog, Food Allergens and Manufacturing Go Together Like...

A little over a week after the GMA Science Forum, representatives from GMA and The Hershey Company attended and spoke at the Food Allergy Research & Education’s (FARE) National Food Allergy Conference in San Antonio.  The GMA and Hershey representatives had an opportunity to connect with over two hundred members of the food allergic community to hear candidly about their struggles and how we as an industry can better serve the needs of these consumers.  The learnings from these discussions will be shared with GMA’s allergen committee so that our members from across the food industry can have access to the insights from this direct consumer feedback and incorporate it into their manufacturing practices.

We, and our member companies, also recognize the importance consumers, especially those in the food allergic community, place on product transparency.   Increasing product transparency is at the heart of our industry’s SmartLabel™ initiative.  SmartLabel™ leverages digital technology and smart devices to bring consumers information about hundreds of product attributes that go well beyond the label, including expanded information on allergen ingredients.   In addition to the product label, SmartLabel™ can be another go to source for specific product allergen information that consumers can access quickly and easily.

We hope this year’s Food Allergen Awareness week will help build public awareness in our communities about food allergies and the impact they have every day on the millions of food allergic consumers and their families across the country.

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