Last Updated: February 24, 2015Topic: Allergens
The confectionery industry makes every effort to protect consumers with food allergies through labeling as well as comprehensive food safety systems.
The candy industry is committed to providing consumers with safe and wholesome food products. Our members are keenly aware of the challenges that food allergens present and have comprehensive quality assurance programs in place to ensure product safety. The manufacture and labeling of candy products is strictly regulated by federal and state agencies.
To ensure the production of safe candy products our members comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) as required by FDA as well their own Quality Assurance and Food Safety programs.
NCA will continue to work with FDA and the food allergic population, including the Food Allergy Research and Education, an organization representing people with food allergies, to ensure that ingredient labels on candy are clear and informative and that good manufacturing practices for allergens are used throughout the confectionery industry. Consumers and parents of kids with allergies should read this NCA guidance on food allergies. NCA members can access information on allergen handling and labeling practices on NCA’s Food Safety Resources page.
The safety of our products and our consumers is the number one priority for the chocolate industry. The findings from the FDA study that found evidence of milk in dark chocolate are very concerning. We are in communication with the FDA about the specific results to better understand how certain labeling statements were evaluated.
Unfortunately, there is often unavoidable cross-contact between the milk chocolate and dark chocolate on processing equipment in many chocolate facilities. The majority of dark chocolate is produced on equipment that is also used to make milk chocolate. Some facilities do have dedicated equipment for milk and dark chocolate products. While chocolate manufacturers clean the equipment between making dark and milk chocolate, it is often not possible to completely rid the equipment of allergenic proteins.
As per FDA regulations, when milk is not intentionally added as an ingredient, it is not allowed to be included in the ingredient statement. In these cases, the industry typically uses advisory statements such as “may contain milk” to communicate the potential presence of milk allergens in dark chocolate. Consumers with milk allergies should not consume products that carry such advisory statements, since these products may indeed contain milk proteins. Companies also welcome inquiries from allergic consumers.
Chocolate manufacturers will continue to make every effort to understand the needs of allergic consumers and communicate the risk of milk allergens in dark chocolate through advisory labeling.