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Label Reading Reminder: Look Out for Similar Packaging or Separate Items Within a Package


Label reading is a critical part of managing your child's food allergies. But it can often be confusing.

Look-Alike Items

For example, it's not uncommon for companies to sell food in similar packaging even though they have different ingredients. These pictures show two packages of cole slaw mix. One just contains vegetables. The other package also contains dressing. But the packages look almost alike. It's easy to grab the wrong one off the shelf.


TIP: Read the label when you buy, read the label before you cook

Items Within a Larger Package

Sometimes, food packages contain smaller packages inside. Always read labels on both packages, because the outer package may not list the same ingredients or warnings as the inside packages.

In this example, the salad lists the ingredients of the package inside. But the second package inside has a "may contain" warning that was not on the outer package. 


Manufacturers can change ingredients, processes and packaging at any time. Remember to always check every label, every time to help avoid food allergy reactions.

We're in this together.
You don't have to manage your child's food allergies alone. KFA has educational information, food allergy news and a Safe Eatsยฎ Recipe database to help you keep your child safe. We also have a free online community where you can talk to other parents and caregivers managing food allergies in a safe, encouraging environment.



Images (6)
  • salad-comparison
  • aldi-salad1-top
  • coleslaw-comparison
  • coleslaw-front-20190505_130941
  • cole-slaw-look-alike-labels-food-allergy
  • salad-different-inside-package-label-food-allergy

We are sharing this information for your convenience. It is not an endorsement or a guarantee of the product's safety. Always read ingredient labels. Contact the manufacturer, if needed, to confirm the safety for your child.

Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) is a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). AAFA is the largest and oldest nonprofit patient organization dedicated to asthma and allergies. KFA educates families and communities with practical food allergy management strategies to save lives and improve the quality of life for children and their families. Our online community includes public blogs. To post a comment, you will need to register or sign in.

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Comments (3)

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Hi Sunny - that sounds really scary and I'm so glad you checked the label so thoroughly. 

Peanut and tree nuts are different allergens, so something can be peanut free but not tree nut free...and vice versa. Thank you for the reminder to not make assumptions about labeling "claims" and always read the full ingredients label. 

Kathy in N. CA - Sr Director of Community

- Gluten intolerant, dairy and eggs; EA's, asthma and eczema; retired Scout leader, cake decorator, and compulsive volunteer!

Alyssa '97 - Pistachio, mung beans, OAS, EA's, eczema, asthma; outgrew corn, cocoa, dairy, egg, grape; TKD Black Belt graphic designer wielding a camera!

Tom '99 - NKFA; EA's, chronic sinusitis with PANDAS, asthma; outgrew same as sis plus tomato, wheat, soy, citrus; Sensory issues; Grad school gamer who would love to explain chemical compounds and discuss philosophy!

Learn the basics of food allergy management with KFA's online course - Enroll Today!

Thank you for reminder to Read labels and not get relaxed on reading common
products as safe.

I am very worried about cupcakes label said PEANUT FREE Facility BUT...i
never seen strawberry cupcakes so decided to read label it said nuts n
pecans in ingredients...i s so glad i read daughter is allergic to
nuts ALL nut and i was taking them to school for LAST DAY OF SCHOOL SNACK
discusted the label said peanut free sticker to fool the buyer!!!

Please see if this is common to use labels PEANUT FREE yet have tree nuts!!!

The average friend or family may think its safe

Last edited by Kathy P
Kids With Food Allergies
A Division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
1235 South Clark Street Suite 305, Arlington, VA 22202
Phone: 1-800-7-ASTHMA (1.800.727.8462)
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