Valentine’s Day is the day of love, chocolate, and flowers.
All day, people receive presents from their loved ones. Many of those people suffer from one of the eight major food allergens; wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, soybeans and milk. Luckily, most of the treats that people receive as presents are forthcoming about the allergens contained within.
According to a recent study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), that isn’t true for all of them.
“This can be a problem, since even one small bite of a product containing milk can cause a dangerous reaction in some individuals,” said Binaifer Bedford, M.S., a fellow at the FDA from the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).
After receiving complaints about allergic reactions following the consumption of dark chocolate, the FDA stepped in.
As part of the study, the FDA tested 100 dark chocolate products for the presence of undeclared milk.
“We divided the [dark chocolate] bars into categories based on the statements on the labels,” explained Bedford.
Among the categories of dark chocolate tested were those that “may contain milk/may contain traces of milk,” those that claimed to be “dairy-free/allergen-free,” and those that had no mention of milk on the label or inconsistent statements.
As stated by the FDA, “the selected [dark chocolate] bars were obtained from different parts of the U.S. and each [dark chocolate] bar was unique in terms of product line and/or manufacturer.”
What they found is shocking.
Although “dairy-free/allergen-free” dark chocolates were least likely to contain milk, two of the 17 products tested did contain some. Fifty-nine percent of the dark chocolate products that didn’t mention milk anywhere on the label also contained the allergen.
The results present an issue because the FDA requires all products that have allergens in them to state so clearly on the packaging. Food allergens are severe and can cause a person to have anything from stomach issues to breathing issues. In some severe cases, they can result in anaphylactic shock or death.
The FDA has not released the names of the dark chocolate brands that were found to contain milk, but they are urging consumers to remain vigilant about what they ingest.
Bedford insisted that, “Because consumers can’t be sure that a statement about milk is completely accurate, they may want to contact the [dark chocolate] manufacturer to find out how it controls for allergens such as milk during production.”
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