The Facts

Food Facts Allergen Icon Guide

Published on Wednesday, 10 October 2012 15:43

One of the first items on a Product Page is the Allergen Icon Bar.

On the Product Page, you can mouse over the icon to see what it represents, as well as view which ingredients trigger this particular icon.  Below, we’ll go over the eighteen icons and provide resources for more information.  The icons can be separated into three categories: the “Big 8” or “Class One” allergens, other allergens and sensitivities, and additional considerations.


BIG EIGHT ALLERGENS

These are the most famous and most common allergens.  Our Allergies 101 page is full of information about allergies in general, and includes detailed pages on each of these allergens: www.foodfacts.com/the-facts/allergies-101.

 

OTHER ALLERGEN AND SENSITIVITIES

These allergens and sensitivities are less common, but can still seriously affect some individuals.

 

Sulfites are used in food processing and as preservatives to extend the shelf life of products.  It can be difficult to know whether a food contains sulfite as manufacturers are only required to disclose them if they are used as a preservative or if more than 10 ppm exist.

 

Nightshades are plants from the Solanaceae family and include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, and more. These plants contain alkaloids, which may cause reactions in those sensitive to them.

 

Corn allergies can be very difficult to manage given the high prevalence of corn-derived products, such as corn starch, citric acid, corn syrup, and more.

 

Gluten is a protein to which people may have intolerance or sensitivity.  It is found in foods processed from wheat and other grain species such as barley, rye, triticale, and possibly oats.  It is also used as a food additive, as a flavoring or as dextrin, a stabilizer.

 

Monosodium glutamate (MSG)  is used as a food additive and flavor enhancer. MSG is the sodium salt of glutamic acid, an amino acid occurring naturally in protein and in the human body. During food processing free-glutamic acids are produced and added to foods, it is this byproduct that may cause adverse reactions in the body.  For more information, please see www.foodfacts.com/controversial/monosodium-glutamate-msg.

 

ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS

 

Trans Fat (Trans Fatty Acids) are produced when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation, which is done to extend shelf life. Trans fat can cause heart disease. It occurs naturally in some meats and dairy, but it is more harmful from processed foods.  For more information, please see: http://www.foodfacts.com/controversial/trans-fat

 

Animal-Derived products are listed to help vegetarians, vegans and others to determine when a product may contain or be derived from an animal product.

 

Flavoring is a label used by Manufacturers for any number of chemicals that they don’t have to disclose, and which may contain allergens such as dairy or seafood.  Please see http://www.foodfacts.com/controversial/natural-flavoring for more information.

 

Controversial Ingredients have either concerns about safety or correct use, differences of opinion, incorrect information or ethical considerations.  Please see http://www.foodfacts.com/controversial

 

Some important notes regarding our allergen icons:

1. Containing an allergen does not affect a product’s score, though certain considerations, such as Controversial Ingredients or Trans Fats, will affect the score
2. The “Warnings” on a product, such as “may contain peanuts” or “manufactured on shared equipment with wheat” will NOT trigger that allergen’s icon to display.
3. IMPORTANT: Manufacturers may change ingredients and processes at any time.  If you have an allergy or concern, please refer to the specific product packaging or contact the manufacturer to ensure that a product is safe to consume.