The Coconut Coalition of the Americas (CCA) is launching an initiative to make it clear that coconuts are not tree nut allergens. CCA, which is based in Spring, Texas, will spearhead the effort to request that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revise the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) Guidance Document to remove coconut from the list of tree nuts identified as major food allergens.
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 percent of food allergies: milk, eggs, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts (e.g. pecans and walnuts), peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. Coconuts were not included in the law, but in 2006, the FDA issued a guidance document on FALCPA with a list of what the FDA considered to be “tree nuts” that included coconut (Cocos nucifera).
The fact is 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,” says CCA Executive Director Len Monheit. “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.”
As a 501(c)6 nonprofit trade organization, CCA needs outside support for this initiative. It will launch once an initial sum of $25,000 toward the project has been raised.