On July 15, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), submitted a letter to the White House on behalf of the food allergy community. AAFA sent the letter to help advise the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health that will be hosted in September 2022.
AAFA is the oldest and largest non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives and reducing the burden of allergic diseases. AAFA’s food allergy division, Kids With Food Allergies, hosts the world’s largest online support community for families managing food allergies. Our KFA community helps drive our food allergy advocacy priorities.
The Five White House Conference Pillars
- Improve food access and affordability
- Integrate nutrition and health
- Empower all consumers to make and have access to healthy choices
- Support physical activity for all
- Enhance nutrition and food security research
The first and only White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health was held in 1969. It helped shape much of the food policy agenda for the next 50 years. This conference is a chance to update and inform new food policies.
To prepare for the conference, the Biden administration asked for ideas from all Americans. AAFA responded with seven recommendations for policies that could improve health outcomes and quality of life for the more than 32 million Americans living with food allergies and their families. Here are our recommendations:
1. Support the Food Labeling Modernization Act
The Food Labeling Modernization Act, or FLMA (H.R.4917/S.2594), would make important updates to how food labels promote nutrition and health. It would require food labels to include allergen information on food that is sold online. This is an important issue for people with food allergies.
2. Support the Medical Nutrition Health Equity Act
The Medical Nutrition Equity Act of 2021, or MNEA (S.2013/H.R.3783), is a bill that would require public and private insurance to cover medical foods, vitamins, and individual amino acids. Millions of children and adults with digestive or metabolic disorders need special medically necessary foods. This includes some people with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) or food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES). But these foods (which often come in the form of formula), supplements, or individual amino acids are expensive. They are not always covered by insurance. MNEA is critical to ensure coverage for these foods.
3. Increase Funding for Food Allergy Research
AAFA supports funding for basic, clinical, preventive, and health services research. This includes supporting more research funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other agencies that research food allergies. AAFA asks the administration to address the current lack of national data on food allergy prevalence.
4. Increase Funding for Nutrition Labeling Standards and Enforcement at FDA
AAFA supports more funding for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, or CFSAN. CFSAN is the center of the FDA that works on food allergen labeling. More funding would help the FDA make sure food companies follow existing labeling laws. It would also support successful implementation of the new allergen labeling requirement for sesame.
The FDA also needs funding to support other allergen labeling work. AAFA has long been concerned about precautionary allergen labeling (PAL). PAL is used to make consumers aware of cross-contact of foods with allergens when foods are made and packaged. PAL language can say “may contain…” or “made on shared lines with…” These notices on food labels are not consistent and not required.
AAFA supports more funding for CFSAN so it can figure out how to improve PAL. This research would need to determine evidence-based allergen limits and accurate information about the risk of allergens in ingredients. These types of limits exist for gluten but not for the major allergens.
5. Promote Food Allergy-Friendly Options for Child Nutrition Programs
More people have been turning to federal food assistance programs like the National School Lunch Program; Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC); and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). These programs help families save money on food. Yet, for families managing food allergies, these programs may not always provide safe food choices.
AAFA made the following suggestions to improve programs for families managing food allergies:
- Extra subsidies for food allergy families
- Food allergy training and education
- More safe food options
6. Improve Access to and Cost of Epinephrine
People and families managing food allergies often bear a heavy and rising cost burden for epinephrine auto-injectors (EAIs).
AAFA supports a number of policies that will make it easier to get and afford epinephrine, including:
- Promoting policies that increase access to EAIs for all children and families with food allergies
- Supporting laws and policies that make EAIs available in schools, child care facilities, restaurants, planes, and other public places
- Supporting policies to secure and maintain the national supply of EAIs
7. Improve Menu Labeling
AAFA supports better food allergy labeling on menus. Just as the FDA requires nutrition information on menus in certain chain restaurants, AAFA asks the FDA to require allergen information on menus.
Safer restaurants could reduce reactions, including death. And it would allow people with food allergies to engage more in social activities with their family and friends with less fear and stress.
These public policy changes could make a big difference in protecting the health and safety of people managing food allergies and related conditions.
AAFA looks forward to working with the Biden administration on these important issues. Stay tuned for more updates related to the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health!
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Would you like to help us advocate on future issues that affect people with food allergies and asthma? We have two ways you can sign up to receive Advocacy Action Alerts.
- Text “AAFA” to 313131 to receive Advocacy Action Alerts and updates via text.
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