Food Label Troubles: From Big Allergen Recalls to Grocery Store Gaps

23 February 2021
By Allergic Living
Dr. Steven Gendel, Jeff Hawley and Host Jen Jobrack

The presence of allergens in packaged foods is the No. 1 reason for food recalls in the United States. When you depend on food labels for accurate top allergen information because of severe food allergies, that’s an unnerving reality. In this episode of the Talking Food Allergy podcast, host Jen Jobrack gets inside the recall issues and challenging loopholes with food safety expert Dr. Steven Gendel and Jeff Hawley, a grocery industry expert. 

The discussion reveals that many allergen recalls arise from food sold in bakery and deli sections. The grayest area relates to foods that are sold in wrappers rather than containers. Hawley offers hopeful insights on efforts that could soon tighten legal requirements for alerting consumers to allergens in foods that are not prepackaged. See also our related article, “When Food at the Grocery Store Isn’t Labeled for Top Allergens“.

Dr. Steven Gendel has been working to protect consumers and the integrity of the food supply for over 30 years. This includes time in academics, as a consultant, and as a safety and policy expert in the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, where he was the first FDA Food Allergen Coordinator.  

Jeff Hawley has been with Harris Teeter Supermarkets since 1995 and is the chain’s Food Safety Manager. He is chair of the allergen committee of the Conference for Food Protection, a public-private body that advises the FDA on food safety issues.  

Host Jen Jobrack is a nationally known food allergy expert, who has worked for the allergy community in areas of public policy, legislation, education and awareness-raising. Her legislative work includes campaigns such as access to epinephrine in the schools. Jen is the founder of Food Allergy Pros.

Talking Food Allergy

All Talking Food Allergies Episodes

Related Resources
When Food at the Grocery Store Isn’t Labeled for Top Allergens
FARE Makes Case for Standardized Food Allergy ‘May Contain’ Label