New FDA Law

With the coronavirus now being a part of life in the United States for about half a year, life as we know it has changed completely. Quarantining oneself is now an expectation, and masks are now a necessary part of daily life. My own life was turned upside down by this pandemic, and I doubt that life as we know it will return to how it was for a very long time. One thing I hadn’t thought of during the start of the pandemic was the food industry, but it appears it has been just as affected. All of a sudden, companies are finding it hard to acquire the ingredients they need to make their products. This is only natural, as the flow of ingredients is bound to be interrupted by a global pandemic, but it makes it almost impossible for many companies to adhere to their ingredient lists when supply chain issues have rendered those ingredients unobtainable.

In comes the FDA with the perfect solution, forget the ingredient list. That’s right, on the 22 of last month, the Food and Drug Administration announced a temporary new rule that allows companies to substitute up to two percent of their ingredients without being required to change their label. As a personal fan of reading the label before I eat virtually anything, I can’t help but feel like this has made that ritual useless. What’s the point of reading the label when there could be just about anything in what I’m eating?

Personally, I’m fortunate, as some of my allergens lie within the top eight food allergens in the United States (peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish). The FDA made sure to state that substituting anything that brought allergen concerns was prohibited and referenced the top eight allergens. This means that, despite the fact that certain substitutions could be made, I don’t have to worry about nuts winding up in my peanut free cookies, as that would be an illegal substitution. However, the concern now lies with those allergies outside of the top eight allergens. Those are less protected under this new law, and there’s no telling where each individual company is going to draw the line on what they will decide to replace their ingredients with. I myself have other allergies that aren’t encompassed within the top eight, which has given me some cause for concern. I could read a label or eat a prepared dish with ingredients that aren’t actually included in the safe label and end up having a life-threatening reaction.

While I understand the reasoning behind this, I feel like the way this was executed was lazy at best, and just plain negligent at worst. While changing the physical labeling each time something is substituted is probably an unrealistic solution, there would be next to no difficulty to keep an online database with these changes. The FDA could easily distribute stickers or some sort of labelling for companies to apply to products with substituted ingredients. It took me two minutes to think of better ways to handle this problem than the current steps being taken, so I have no doubt that, if work was actually put into this law, some sort of solution could be reached that satisfies everyone, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen.

To those with allergies that are uncertain of their safety eating certain foods, the best course of action I would recommend taking would be to call the individual manufacturing plants that your food comes from, as they would know best what, if anything, is being substituted. I know for a fact that my mom has been calling nonstop to ensure that everything I put in my mouth is safe, and I feel so lucky to have my parents prioritizing my safety even now as an adult. Please remember to stay safe during these troubling times.

Until next time,



Like a superhero coming out of hiding, I once again return to save the world. That’s right, Peanut Free Gary is back! This time I’m older, wiser, and I’m probably better at writing than I was in high school. I realized not too long ago that, even though I stopped writing for my blog, there was still so much that I had left unsaid, and so much that needed to be covered. Allergy awareness is still an issue, so it’s my duty to get back to work writing about my life, and about things that are going on in the allergy world. I’ll be making about two posts every week for the near future, so stay tuned! I’m so excited to get back out there and I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

As for today, it seems only fitting that I catch everyone up on what’s been going on in my life during my prolonged absence. Having been accepted into MSU, I took a year off my blog to focus on my college life. I went into freshman year pursuing a degree in biochemistry, but after taking a single programming class, I decided to alter my entire degree path and pursue computer science instead. I honestly can’t tell whether or not that was a smart choice on my end, but I’ve got high hopes for my future.

After struggling a bit to adjust during my first semester, I managed to make it out of second semester on the dean’s list, so that’s pretty exciting. COVID-19 was a rather large interruption in my college career, and I ended up taking the last couple months of schooling at home. As of now, I’ve been quarantined for months without leaving the house, and frankly it’s getting boring, but I count my family incredibly fortunate for having avoided catching this virus.

Overall though, I’m doing fine here. Food-wise, my mom has got things covered. Her oversight borders on prophetic, so she was able to stock up on enough stuff before quarantine hit that we’ve been relatively comfortable for the past few months. When we do need things, we get them delivered. I’ve been practically living off of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch that we now receive in regular shipments. I’m used to not being able to go to restaurants or eating out, so eating exclusively at home honestly isn’t that big of a change, but I do find myself wishing for a trip to McDonalds to break the monotony.

Mainly though, I’ve just been lonely. Going from living in a community with my peers, attending classes every day, and eating in a vibrant dining hall to being secluded to my house was an adjustment to be sure. I had so enjoyed the freedom that college had offered me, and to have it taken away so abruptly by something completely out of my control just doesn’t seem fair. 

Even so, I know I’m one of the fortunate ones. My family is all fine, and we’re able to sustain ourselves comfortably, so my loneliness is a petty issue at most, but that’s what this blog is for! What better way to combat that crushing feeling of isolation than to write to the vast abyss that is the internet? I look forward to spreading allergy awareness through writing, and to the means of catharsis it will provide to me. Stay tuned, because I’ll have a lot to say in the coming weeks!

Until next time!