If your child has food allergies, reading food labels can be a daunting task. It’s important to be vigilant about what ingredients are in the foods you give your child, as even small amounts of certain ingredients can cause a severe allergic reaction. Here are some tips and tricks for reading food labels when your child has food allergies.
Look for allergen warnings
Many food manufacturers are required to include allergen warnings on their labels if the product contains any of the eight major allergens: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. These allergens are responsible for the majority of food allergies, so it’s important to be on the lookout for them. If the label says “Contains: milk,” for example, you’ll know to avoid the product if your child is allergic to milk.
Check the ingredient list
In addition to allergen warnings, you’ll want to carefully read the ingredient list on food labels. This list includes all of the ingredients used to make the product, listed in order of predominance (the ingredient used in the greatest amount is listed first). If your child is allergic to a specific ingredient, be on the lookout for it on the list. Keep in mind that ingredients can have different names, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with common synonyms for the allergens your child is allergic to. For example, milk can also be listed as “whey,” “casein,” or “lactose.”
Understand “may contain” statements
Sometimes, food labels will include a “may contain” statement, which means that the product has been made in a facility that also processes allergens. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the product contains allergens, but it’s important to be aware of the risk. If your child has a severe allergy, you may want to avoid products with “may contain” statements to be on the safe side.
Look for certified allergen-free products
If you’re having a hard time finding products that don’t contain your child’s allergens, you may want to look for products that have been certified allergen-free. These products are made in facilities that are dedicated to producing allergen-free products, so the risk of cross-contamination is much lower. You can find certified allergen-free products by looking for labels like “certified gluten-free” or “certified peanut-free.”
Don’t rely on packaging alone
It’s important to remember that packaging can be misleading, so don’t rely on it alone when reading food labels. Even if a product claims to be allergen-free, it’s still a good idea to check the ingredient list and allergen warnings to be sure. Similarly, just because a product doesn’t have an allergen warning doesn’t mean it’s safe for your child – always check the ingredient list to be sure.
In conclusion, reading food labels is an important step in keeping your child safe when they have food allergies. By looking for allergen warnings, checking the ingredient list, understanding “may contain” statements, and looking for certified allergen-free products, you can make informed decisions about what foods are safe for your child to eat. Don’t rely on packaging alone – always double