She was just 15 and in love, and in a romantic interlude with her beau in early March, she stole what would be her last kiss. While a coroner said it was a lack of oxygen to her brain, it was initially believed that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich lingering on the pallet of her boyfriend was the culprit, for Christina Desforges, of Saguenay, Quebec, Canada, who was, incidentally, allergic to peanuts, and died in a Quebec hospital several days later.
At press time, however, Coroner Michel Miron refused to disclose the cause of death, saying he has yet to submit his final report to the provincial coroner’s office. But he told The Associated Press he hoped to end the “phobia” provoked by the case, which drew global media coverage.
Miron’s characterization seems to minimize the worldwide attention that food allergies get, and perhaps he is undermining the great efforts that are being carried out globally and locally to combat the threats allergens pose, for neither the concern nor the coverage has waned. In fact, it continues to intensify, as food allergies and allergen testing can present quite the quandaries for not just consumers, but for the food industry, too.
As of Jan. 1, FDA now requires food labels to clearly state if food products contain any ingredients that contain protein derived from the eight major allergenic foods, which are milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.
The new law is a provision of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA), which mandates that manufacturers are now required to identify in plain English the presence of ingredients that contain protein derived from in the list of allergenic foods or to say “contains” followed by name of the source of the food allergen after or adjacent to the list of ingredients.
According to the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), this labeling law will be especially helpful to children who must learn to recognize the presence of substances they must avoid. For example, if a product contains the milk-derived protein, “casein,” the product’s label will have to use the term “milk” in addition to the term “casein” so that consumers with milk allergies can clearly understand the presence of an allergen they need to avoid.