Guard against cross-contamination

Cross-contamination can occur when foods are produced in the same facility. However, the FDA doesn't require manufacturers to state that allergens could've made their way into foods that aren't meant to contain them. So when reading food labels, look out for these phrases that may indicate possible cross-contamination:

  • "May contain"
  • "Processed in a facility with"
  • "Manufactured on shared equipment with"

Beware of tricky labeling

  • Watch out for vague ingredients. Some items on foods labels can be unclear. For instance, "spices" and "flavors" that aren't followed by a breakdown of specific sources, such as cumin, paprika or salt, may contain allergens. Contact the food manufacturer to clarify the sources of any vaguely listed ingredients.
  • Check every label. Read food labels even for products that you've used before. Many companies don't tell customers when ingredients have been changed, but by law, they should always update their food labels.
  • Pay special attention to foreign products. Not all countries require manufacturers to list allergens on food labels. Be mindful of this when you travel abroad.
March 04, 2014 See more In-depth