I am extremely allergic to buckwheat. Can you tell me if US nutrition labeling guidelines require that buckwheat be included on food labels, regardless of the amount, and also if there are any other names under which it might be listed.
All food in the US has to be labeled to accurately reflect the ingredients it contains. So the label on a product that contains buckwheat should list buckwheat, buckwheat groats or kasha, another name for buckwheat. Sometimes one ingredient is used to make another and it might be hard to know that by reading the label. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act requires that the top eight allergens always be listed on the label even when they are used to make another ingredient. Buckwheat is not one of the top eight allergens, but it is generally not used to make other ingredients, so you should not have to worry about that possibility too much. Cliff Orr, vice president of Birkett Mills, the number one producer of buckwheat in the world, said he is not aware of any ingredients made from buckwheat or any cases where buckwheat would be in a product, but not on the label. A very small amount of buckwheat that might be in a food due to cross contamination, however, would not have to be labeled. There are currently no regulations that require labeling of ingredients that accidentally get into food through cross-contamination. Some companies voluntarily label the potential for cross-contamination, but usually only for the top eight allergens. Also, food makers are expected to follow good manufacturing procedures to reduce cross-contamination as much as possible. Buckwheat is gluten free and is safe for those who have celiac disease. An allergy to buckwheat, which is a fruit and can produce an allergic reaction similar to an allergy to strawberries, is a separate matter. Orr said those who are allergic to buckwheat should realize that use of buckwheat is growing as food companies produce more multi-grain breads, cereals and snack foods, but buckwheat would be listed as an ingredient on the labels. In general, these products are not gluten free because they contain wheat, barley, rye or oats contaminated by wheat.