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Allergy Groups Wonder Where Whey Is

February 19, 2006|From Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The makers of Wonder Bread have come under fire from food allergy groups for package labeling that says the bread contains a dairy product when it doesn't.

But Interstate Bakeries Corp. said last week it was trying to give consumers a heads-up because it planned to add the dairy product whey to the lunchtime staple by the end of the year.

However, its strategy appears to be at odds with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's new regulations for food labeling, agency spokeswoman Kimberly Rawlings said.

"The regulations state that the packaging has to be truthful and not misleading," Rawlings said. "The label should reflect the contents of the package."

Even though the recipe has not yet been changed, Interstate Bakeries said it began selling bread with the updated ingredient list to give customers with dairy allergies plenty of advance warning.

"Because of consumer safety, we take these matters very seriously," said Theresa Cogswell, the company's vice president of research and development.

The company's decision has alarmed food allergy experts, who worry it could teach parents of children with food allergies to take chances.

The Fairfax, Va.-based Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network said about 6% of children have food allergies and that most of those are dairy-based.

"What the company is doing is undermining the public's trust in labeling," said Anne Munoz-Furlong, the group's chief executive.

Cogswell said the company decided last fall to eventually put whey -- a liquid byproduct of cheese- and yogurt-making -- in Wonder Bread to improve its taste and texture.

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