Beyond the Label: The Unseen Risks of Undeclared Allergens

Chelsea Hawk
February 27, 2024

Every week, my inbox is filled with alerts from the FDA about recalls, market withdrawals, and safety alerts featured on the FDA website

At the core of many of these alerts lies a common culprit: undeclared allergens.

Recent cases, such as undeclared coconut in a well-loved baked goods company and undeclared wheat in an oatmeal cookie from a major retailer, serve as cautionary tales. 

The Human Cost

Undeclared allergens go beyond mere inconveniences. They can have a significant impact on consumer health. Allergic reactions to these hidden ingredients range from mild symptoms to life-threatening situations. Per the USDA, in the U.S., incidents of anaphylaxis due to food allergies lead to approximately 30,000 emergency room visits, 2,000 hospitalizations, and 150 deaths every year. Accurate allergen labeling is critical to protect the health and well-being of consumers.

Consumer Trust and Company Reputation

Recalls due to undeclared allergens are not just a matter of regulatory compliance; they strike at the heart of consumer trust. When a company fails to disclose allergens properly, it jeopardizes the trust consumers place in their products. This erosion of trust can have lasting consequences, significantly impacting brand loyalty and consumer perception - which ultimately ends up costing the bottom line. 

Financial Challenges

The financial implications of undeclared allergens in products are multi-faceted. Companies incur significant expenses associated with product retrieval, disposal, and the logistics of correcting labeling errors. These costs accumulate swiftly, extending beyond the recall process and significantly impacting the company's bottom line and long-term profitability.

So, how can companies proactively prevent undeclared allergen issues? Solutions might include implementing robust quality control measures, rigorous supplier verification, and regular testing.

At ENTR (food & beverage software), we recognize the pivotal role technology can play in fortifying these prevention strategies. Our system alerts users to potential allergens in their product formulas, helping ensure that every potential allergen is accurately accounted for in the labeling process.

By incorporating checkpoints throughout the platform, ENTR empowers companies to continually check the accuracy and completeness of their data. This enhances the reliability of what ends up on a final product label and reduces the likelihood of oversights that could lead to undeclared allergen issues. If you’d like to learn more about ENTR, you can contact us here.

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