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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has posted a warning to consumers that certain Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancakes, manufactured by Pinnacle Foods Group LLC, are being recalled because they may contain undeclared soy allergens.
In general, soy contains many dietary components that are thought to provide health benefits. Soy is an excellent source of dietary protein, including all essential amino acids. Soy is also a source of lecithin or phospholipid. Isoflavones found in soy are believed to have estrogen-like effects in the body and may reduce the risk of certain types of breast cancer. There is currently an approved health claim for soy (25g daily) for cholesterol reduction in the United States, and there is clinical evidence to support the use of soy protein as a cholesterol-lowering agent. Soy protein has also been investigated for benefit in terms of other cardiovascular disease risk factors, reducing menopausal symptoms, weight loss, arthritis, memory, and exercise performance enhancement. Unfortunately, for some people, soy has the potential to cause allergies.
The term "food allergens" refers to the parts of foods (usually proteins) that cause allergic reactions. Most allergens can cause allergic reactions even after they are cooked or have been digested. Furthermore, even trace amounts of food allergens may trigger allergic reactions in some patients.
An allergic reaction to food occurs when an individual's immune system mistakes a food protein for a foreign substance, causing immune cells to overreact. During the allergic reaction, the body releases chemicals that trigger symptoms that can then affect the eyes, nose and throat, as well as the skin and the lungs.
The severity and duration of allergy symptoms may vary among patients. Symptoms may develop anywhere from several minutes to several hours after exposure to the food allergen. Anaphylaxis, which refers to the rapid onset of serious allergy-related symptoms, is the most severe type of allergic reaction that may occur. The symptoms of anaphylaxis include low blood pressure, breathing difficulties, shock and loss of consciousness, all of which can be fatal. About 30,000 Americans need emergency room treatment and 150 die each year because of allergic reactions to food, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The responsibility of food manufacturers to clearly state a product's ingredients on the label became a requirement when the U.S. Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA). The law, which went into effect January 1, 2006, requires food manufacturers to clearly state on their packages whether the food is made with any ingredients that contain protein from the eight major allergenic foods. These foods include milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.