The History of Food Allergy Laws and Relevant Case Studies

The History of Food Allergy Laws and Relevant Case Studies


Food allergy refers to an abnormal immune response caused by the exposure (usually oral intake) to one or more specific foods, or foods containing a specific food protein, and a series of clinical symptoms.

Food allergies tend to occur in children, especially infants and younger children. Skin, digestive tract, and respiratory tract symptoms are more common. Avoiding foods that cause allergies is the most effective treatment. Food allergies have different incidences due to age, region, lifestyle and allergens. However, the overall incidence of food allergies in children is significantly higher than that of adults, and the overall trend is increasing. In the United States in 2004, food allergies caused 30,000 to 50,000 emergency room cases and 150 to 200 deaths each year.

This article is divided into the following parts: First, introduce the symptoms and causes of food allergies. Secondly, introduce the history of food allergy laws and the development and changes of food allergy laws. Once again, the cases of food allergies in the United States and Europe are introduced respectively. Finally, some preventive measures to deal with food allergies are proposed.

Phenomenon and causes of food allergy

The symptoms of food allergy are related to the pathogenesis, affected organs, and allergens. The symptoms of skin, digestive tract, and respiratory tract are more common. Mild patients generally present with skin and digestive tract symptoms. In severe cases, respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms can occur, and even shock and death can occur. In addition, it can cause ocular and systemic symptoms, such as itching, tearing, conjunctival hyperemia, and arrhythmia. Food allergy is due to exposure (usually oral intake) of a certain food protein, which causes an abnormal reaction of the human immune system, which leads to allergic symptoms. Common food allergens include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, soybeans, wheat and nuts. Genetic factors and environmental factors are the risk factors for this disease.

History of food allergy laws

The law on food allergies is always in development. In fact, since the 1880s, the state governments that moved ahead of the U.S. federal government have begun to formulate food and drug regulatory bills applicable to the state, and Congress has also promulgated individual bills involving butter and imported drugs. However, it cannot be extended to the whole country due to the limitation of the scope of application. The inconsistency of regulatory regulations has not only worsened the domestic food and drug trade order to some extent, but also weakened the competitiveness of US products in the international market, which is also very unfavorable for the food and drug industry. But in 1906, the U.S. Congress passed the Federal Food and Drugs Act, which was the first federal food-related law, and it became the first federal food and drug regulatory law in the history of the United States. This law stipulates that food manufacturers must indicate the ingredients of the food to consumers, and must not add harmful ingredients to food or deceive or mislead consumers. This law gives the federal government certain rights. Although this law does not emphasize that allergen information must be included in food labels, this law is a good start, and it lays the foundation for subsequent laws on food allergy. This law is also a dynamic policy choice made by the federal government after the transition of American society into the industrial age, and it has also effectively strengthened and enhanced the government’s governance capabilities and public authority. It has multiple historical significance.

In 1938, Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. This law stipulates the regulations that food manufacturers must follow when producing foods containing certain specific ingredients. Since this law is mandatory, it protects consumers from allergens to a certain extent. This law has been retained for more than 50 years, but because many consumers know nothing about the contents of standardized foods, Congress passed a nutrition labeling and education law requiring manufacturers to list the ingredients of all standardized foods, which is a step forward. step. The FDA issued a consumer guide in 1994 to let consumers understand the hazards of food allergies and possible effective measures when they encounter food allergies. The FDA encourages food manufacturers to proactively declare allergens in food. But the FDA also emphasizes that preventive declarations are not all, and food manufacturers need to take all possible measures to eliminate allergens that may be unintentionally introduced in food.

In May 2001, the U.S. FDA issued a guidance document entitled “Common Food Allergen Labeling and Prevention of Cross-Contact Policy Regulations”, which clearly pointed out that the content required by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act is very small, and there is no technical or technical or technical information in the final product. The label exemption for functional additives does not apply to allergens. Simply put, if a food uses any ingredients, additives, or processing aids that contain known allergens in the manufacturing process, the manufacturer must indicate these allergens on the label. The only exception is allergens contained in seasonings, flavors, and colors. The FDA only “encourages” manufacturers to label them. The document further pointed out that the “may contain” label cannot replace quality management.

Since the policy and regulations were issued in 2001, the FDA, the food industry, the scientific and technological circles and consumers have continued their efforts to legislate for allergen labels. In 2004, the US Congress finally passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). FALCPA has further expanded the label range of food allergens in the form of legislation, clearly stipulating that the “eight categories” of allergens contained in flavors, pigments and trace additives must be marked on the label. At the same time, food ingredients containing “eight categories” of protein derivatives are officially included in the category of allergens. It should be noted that deep-processed foods that do not contain the “eight categories” of protein, such as highly refined peanut oil and soybean oil, are not covered by allergen labels. FALCPA did not make a conclusion on the “may contain” label category, but it requires the U.S. Department of Health to report the current food industry cross-contamination level and preventive measures, and the use of the “may contain” label to Congress within 18 months after the protection law takes effect. , And consumers’ opinions on such labels.

Food allergy cases in the United States

There is a case here. The plaintiff’s father, Mr. Allen, was allergic to nuts. One day in 2019, he bought an apple fritter from the defendant Rickey Meche’s Donut King and brought it back to the hotel room. Soon after he consumed apple fritter, Mr. Allen had a severe allergic reaction. After two days of treatment, Mr. Allen still lost his life. Mr. Allen’s girlfriend, Ms. Senegal, learned from an unidentified Donut King employee that apple fritter contains walnuts.

The plaintiff alleged that the apple fritter sold by Rickey Meche’s Donut King to Mr. Allen caused an allergic reaction and was responsible for Mr. Allen’s death. Donut King argued that apple fritter does not contain any nuts and nut products. Although one of Donut King’s products contains chopped pecans, a series of steps have been taken to avoid cross-contamination. In addition, the US law on allergen labeling requirements only applies to packaged foods, not to bakeries such as doughnuts. Moreover, Donut King has posted a slogan reminding customers that the product contains nuts and milk, and it is not recommended for customers with food allergies.

The plaintiff initially claimed that the apple fritter contained walnuts, but did not taste like crushed nuts, so it later claimed that it might be walnut powder. However, Donut King provided sufficient evidence that walnuts or walnut powder have never been used, and that apple fritter is only made from wheat flour and no nut extract has been used. The plaintiff also alleged that apple fritters may be cross-contaminated because Donut King contains products that use walnuts as fillings, and there is a possibility of cross-contamination. But Donut King gave a document detailing the measures taken by employees to avoid cross-contamination, such as container isolation, separate storage, changing gloves between each individual food, etc., and the employee testified.

The plaintiff further argued that on the day Mr. Allen purchased the apple fritter, whether Donut King’s slogan was posted in an obvious place and whether the employee issued a verbal allergen warning to Mr. Allen were controversial facts. However, the plaintiff did not provide evidence to prove cross-contamination, and there is no direct evidence that Mr. Allen was caused by the allergic reaction due to the apple fritter sold by Rickey Meche’s Donut King. The plaintiff cannot obtain support based on guesswork alone, so the plaintiff’s claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

In my opinion, there are some doubts in this case. First, the plaintiff did not provide a medical diagnosis that could prove the cause of Mr. Allen’s death. If Mr. Allen did die because of food allergies, the plaintiff could obtain a certificate of the cause of death from the hospital, which would be the strong evidence needed for the lawsuit. Second, the plaintiff could not prove that an employee claimed that the apple fritter contained walnuts, and could not even provide call recordings. If there are employees claiming that apple fritter contains walnuts, call records or call recordings are also evidence. Finally, the plaintiff only relied on speculation to file a lawsuit without having any evidence, which was obviously a lack of preparation.

From this case, I learned that if I work in the food sales industry, I must work hard to avoid food allergies. I should provide allergens contained in the food on the packaging of the food. At the same time, if a customer buys food that may contain allergens, I should remind the customer to inform them of the allergens contained in the food. In addition, as a consumer, I should know which foods I am allergic to, pay attention to the allergen information on the food label when buying food, and ask the seller about the allergen contained in the food.

CEC Entertainment, Inc. is the owner and operator of the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain. Chuck E. Cheese has a national policy that prohibits foreign food (except cake or ice cream) in its restaurants. In this case, the plaintiff’s son was a person with a medically diagnosed food allergy and a disabled person. Therefore, when eating out, the plaintiff and his son would prepare some of their own meals and bring them into the restaurant. The plaintiff’s son entered a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain on November 9, 2013. The plaintiff asked the restaurant manager to allow the plaintiff to bring some safe meals from the restaurant, but the request was rejected by the manager.

In this case, the plaintiff requested the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain to adjust its unreasonable policy and abolish the prohibition on taking outside food. The defendant held that the plaintiff’s claim was invalid. First, according to ADA regulations, food allergy is not a disability. Second, the plaintiff’s son was not discriminated against. Finally, the accuser’s son requested accommodation because of food allergies, so it was unreasonable.

According to Title 3 of the ADA, the plaintiff made the following claims: First, the food allergy of the plaintiff’s son is a disability. This is medically proven that if he comes into contact with certain types of food, he may have a life-threatening allergic reaction. Secondly, the defendant operated a public place. Finally, the plaintiff’s son was denied access to the public place operated by the defendant because of his disability. In addition, the plaintiff also claimed that he had also requested some take-out meals in other restaurants, but most of them were not rejected.

The main points of contention between the plaintiff and the defendant were: (1) Whether the food allergy of the plaintiff’s son was a disability. The defendant believes that the ADA stipulates that disability is a physical or mental disorder that severely restricts one or more major life activities, and food allergies do not meet this point. The plaintiff claimed that the ADA regards diet as a major life activity and that the plaintiff’s children will have allergic reactions if they eat dairy products. Therefore, this restricts the plaintiff’s children’s way of eating. Therefore, food allergies are in full compliance with ADA regulations. Disability. (2) Has the plaintiff’s son been discriminated against because of food allergies? The plaintiff believes that the defendant did not allow the plaintiff to bring in external food, and asked the plaintiff and his family to leave the restaurant, which violated the provisions of Chapter 3 of the ADA and resulted in discrimination against the plaintiff’s son. The defendant believed that this did not constitute discrimination. (3) Whether the residence sought by the plaintiff is too broad and unreasonable. The defendant believed that the authenticity of the food allergy claimed by the customer could not be easily verified. If the customer was allowed to bring in any food, it would fundamentally change the nature of the defendant’s business.

After trial, the court found that the plaintiff stated sufficient facts and provided a legal basis. Therefore, the plaintiff’s claim was reasonable and the court rejected the defendant’s request. From this case, I learned that food allergies can be regarded as a disability requiring shelter. If I were the manager of a catering company, I would fully consider the needs of customers with food allergies and provide necessary food for customers with food allergies. The convenience. If I have a food allergy, I will fully guarantee my rights in accordance with the law.

Food allergy cases in the UK

Before the 2000s, few consumers filed lawsuits against the contents of food labels. Since 2003, according to British regulations, allergen information must be included in the label, and the label must be clear enough, easy to understand, and indelible. The labeling law also makes mandatory requirements for the minimum letter height. Since then, more and more people have realized that non-compliance with food labels puts people with food allergies at risk. In addition, for people with food allergies, unpackaged food is even more of a problem. In 2000, a survey in Northern Ireland found that one-fifth of takeaway meals claimed to be suitable for customers with peanut allergies contained peanut protein.

In 2009, Telford sued a trading market in Wellington for improper labeling of imported chocolate. The name of the chocolate is Milka Frühlingsblumen, which is a bar of imported chocolate. The chocolate label does not declare the presence of allergens (almonds and hazelnuts) in easy-to-understand language. The seller was convicted and fined.

On July 5, 2010, a customer bought Aubergine Rollatini Spinach at a deli in Kensington. The customer suffers from a severe nut allergy, so the customer carefully checked the label and found no nut-related logo in it. After the customer bit into it, he immediately realized there were nuts in it. The customer developed an allergic reaction and was treated in the hospital for 8 hours. The customer filed a lawsuit against the food store. Food shops were fined for this. The magistrate said when the sentence was pronounced that the plaintiff is fortunate to have fully recovered, and the consequences of this could have been very different. The defendant’s food store had established a strict food allergy treatment system before this incident, and this incident was considered negligence.

Here is another takeaway case. In 2009, a customer with a peanut allergy wanted a Chinese takeaway to request food without peanuts, but after eating the food, the customer had a severe allergic reaction and had to go to the hospital for emergency treatment. After analyzing the remaining food, it was found that it contained peanut protein. Obviously, this Chinese takeaway shop is responsible for customers’ food allergies. This takeaway restaurant did not provide peanut-free food as requested by the customer, which directly caused the customer’s food allergy. In the end, the takeaway shop was fined and compensated for the loss of customers.

Preventive measures for food allergies

Although food allergens only affect a small part of the population, the potential threat it poses to such specific populations is great. Risk control should start from the source, the supplier, and be implemented in the entire process of production and sales. The focus should be on labeling and labeling management, prevention of cross-contamination, and the establishment of allergen-free cleaning practices.

I learned that as a manager, I should identify allergens and allergen-containing products in accordance with relevant regulations and formulate an allergen identification table. When purchasing allergen-containing auxiliary materials, suppliers should be required to identify allergen materials and distinguish them from non-allergenic materials by means of batch number identification; when the factory receives allergen auxiliary materials, the transport vehicle should be inspected to confirm other Raw and auxiliary materials are not contaminated by allergen and auxiliary materials, and the inspection results shall be recorded; allergen materials and other materials shall be stored separately after storage, and allergen and auxiliary materials shall be marked.

I learned that as a manager, I should first arrange the products in the “Allergen Identification Table” to the last production when making a production plan or during the daily production schedule of the workshop. Secondly, the raw and auxiliary materials containing allergic substances should be marked during the production process and avoid mixing with other raw and auxiliary materials. Allergic tools and instruments must be used exclusively, and other raw and auxiliary materials are strictly prohibited. The waste containing allergens should be protected during the transfer process to prevent running and dripping; the rework of products containing allergens should be carried out in a special place that will not cause cross-contamination; the movement of raw and auxiliary materials will become cross An important source of pollution. When moving raw and auxiliary materials containing allergic substances, protective measures should be taken to prevent cross-contamination of other materials. Finally, in terms of cleaning, after the production of allergen-containing products is completed, all equipment and utensils in the production workshop environment and production line should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The cleaning and disinfection effect should be tested for allergen residues, and unqualified products should be cleaned again until they meet the requirements. Claim.

I learned that as a manager, I should label the products containing allergens and consumer precautions as required when designing product labels. When necessary, conduct allergen-related knowledge and management control training for personnel in relevant positions, improve employees’ food safety awareness and strengthen allergen management.


In recent years, developed countries have imposed stricter requirements on food labeling, and food labeling has become an important means of setting up technical barriers to international trade. Among them, whether the allergen information is clearly marked has also become an important sign for judging whether the food label is standardized. Related food companies must attach great importance to allergy management issues. In addition, with the increasing awareness of consumer rights, cases related to food allergies are also showing an increasing trend. As a manager. The first is to ensure that the raw materials are purchased and stored, and it is clear whether the purchased raw materials contain allergens, and the allergen-free raw materials should be isolated to avoid contamination; the second is to control the production control, rationally schedule production, and rationally use the equipment. Do a good job in postpartum and prenatal cleaning to prevent cross-contamination; the third is to properly label information, carefully study and strictly implement the relevant regulations on the labeling of allergens in food, and make the allergen label clear and clear.