One would think that parents of kids with food allergies stay diligent in their quest to avoid the object of the allergy.
But that’s not always true, according to a new study from Australia, and parents need to get re-energized about reading labels to prevent their children from experiencing allergic attacks.
Study: Are Precautionary Labels Effective?
The research involved the parents of 246 children affected by food allergy. Professor Katie Allen, Director of Population Health at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne, led the study and administered the survey to parents.
“Precautionary labeling for food allergens, such as ‘may contain traces of,’ are now present on more than half of all packaged processed foods in Australian supermarkets,” pointed out the authors of the research. They were interested to find out how parents of children with and without a history of anaphylaxis react to that labeling. It may be that with such saturation, parents don’t pay attention to these voluntary labels.
Results: Many Labels Not Useful
Results showed that parents of 54 kids with a history of anaphylaxis (48 percent) “felt that the ingredient list information on food labels was easy to understand or use,” but only six (5.4 percent) said they trusted the labels. Many parents reported that the labels were “not useful” (between 78 and 84 percent). Furthermore, “they did not know whether the food was safe to eat irrespective of the wording of the labels.”
“The proportion of participants who would avoid a particular food with a precautionary label varied depending on the wording of the precautionary label,” the authors wrote. The wording “made in the same factory” was disregarded by 65 percent of the survey respondents. The statement “may be present” was ignored by 22 percent of participants.
“The attitudes of parents of food-allergic children towards precautionary labeling appear to be complacent whether or not children had a past history of anaphylaxis,” they explained. “Policies that promote the use of fewer precautionary statements or more effective labeling strategies may lead to less consumer complacency.”