To prevent visits to the emergency room, the FDA is eager to do more to ensure that food manufacturers don't mislead consumers. The FDA has been collecting comments from the public during the last few months and will continue to solicit feedback until mid-January 2009.
Burks said he hopes that the meeting today will be a solid step in giving the industry firm guidelines on how to label foods so that parents can easily and accurately decifer new labels.
Daines said more stringent standards for labeling would be a good start.
"It should very clearly state on the front of the package whether it contains the common food allergens," Daines said. "Anything that would state clearly whether it contains those or not would be a big step in the right direction."
Fleischer said clearer labels would work wonders for those with allergies.
"Hopefully, it will reduce parent's anxiety and hopefully let them focus on the foods and food products they really need to avoid," he said.
To ensure that foods are safe, Dr. Harvey Leo, assistant research scientist at the Center for Managing Chronic Disease, suggested that in addition to reading labels, parents should try to have their kids test out new foods at home. He also advised parents to be vigilant in looking out for symptoms in order to pinpoint precisely which food sparked an allergic reaction.
While eating out, customers are also advised to stay in close communication with servers, managers and chefs, to guarantee their precise needs are met.
To prevent allergic reactions, the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network works with the National Restaurant Association and has developed a training program for restaurants. The National Restaurant Association is also training managers and employees this month as part of a September education campaign.