But if lawmakers are so concerned over the 200 deaths caused each year by allergens, why aren't they similarly concerned about the millions of deaths caused by more blatant food ingredients like sodium nitrite (causes cancer), high-fructose corn syrup (causes diabetes), hydrogenated oils (causes heart disease), MSG (causes obesity) and white flour (causes nutritional deficiencies)? If we want to save lives by mandating more informative labels on foods, we should require food makers to include phrases like, "Warning: Causes Obesity" right on the label of any food or beverage made with high-fructose corn syrup -- which would include soft drinks, by the way. Margarine made with hydrogenated oils should carry a large red warning that says, "Warning: This product promotes heart disease."
Let's require food manufacturers to tell the truth about their disease-promoting products. Stop letting them hide behind a tiny list of ingredients that most people don't read in the first place. As a nation, we should require food manufacturers to warn consumers about the health consequences of the foods they eat there. And it shouldn't be limited to grocery products, either: national fast food restaurants should be required to carry similar warnings: "Warning: this hamburger promotes diabetes and heart disease." It should be in large, red letters right on the product box.
Of course, this has been tried already with cigarettes, and people just keep on smoking anyway. Some people don't care what foods do to their health. But awareness is part of the answer here, and better food labeling can certainly enhance awareness. I think there are a great many people who simply aren't aware that sodium nitrite, for example, causes colon cancer. If grocery store products containing sodium nitrite were required to display cancer warnings on the label, you can bet there would be plenty of consumers who would start buying nitrite-free products.
The bottom line? There's nothing wrong with requiring better labeling for consumers who suffer from chronic food allergies, but why not protect everyone else, too? Let's require the labeling of all ingredients that promote obesity and chronic disease.