The Coconut Coalition of the Americas (CCA) has announced it will spearhead the effort to request that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revise the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) guidance document to remove coconut from the list of “tree nuts” identified as a major food allergen.
The FALCPA was enacted to ensure that the labels of food products effectively inform consumers if they contain any of the eight major food allergens that account for 90% of food allergies. Coconuts were not included in the law, but in 2006 the FDA issued a guidance document on FALCPA with a list of what the agency considered to be “tree nuts” that included coconut (Cocos nucifera).
The CCA argues that the coconut is not a major food allergen nor is it a nut. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology states: “Coconut is not a botanical nut; it is classified as a fruit, even though the Food and Drug Administration recognizes coconut as a tree nut. While allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut.”
“The FDA misclassified coconut, which is causing confusion for a lot of people because it shouldn’t be classified with tree nuts,” said Len Monheit, CCA executive director. “Consumers with a tree nut allergy, but not a coconut allergy, are being deprived of this fruit. And, industry is being greatly impacted as contract manufacturers wanting to use coconut have to unnecessarily classify their facility as a tree nut facility when they’re not.”