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Academia Sinica demands labels for allergy-causing foods

TAIPEI -- Academia Sinica, Taiwan's most prestigious research institution, called Wednesday for the mandatory labeling of allergy-causing foods.

The research body's proposal, which focuses on food safety and controls of environmental chemical toxicity, noted that food allergies have been largely ignored in Taiwan, where an estimated 5-10 percent of the population are prone to allergic reactions ranging from the mild to potentially fatal cases.

Along with large-scale industrialization, Taiwan has seen an increase in the prevalence of rhinitis, dermatitis and asthma — all of which are associated with processed foods and additives, according to Academia Sinica.

It noted that the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2004 proposed a Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, requiring food producers to highlight on their packaging the eight most common ingredients that trigger food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. In 2009, the U.S. formulated even stricter regulations for labeling of food allergens.

Taiwan, by comparison, has no such regulations, Academia Sinica said, calling for relevant legislation to make such labeling mandatory.

The research institution's proposal also suggested that the government invest in research on food allergens and the prevention of foodborne disease.

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