Congress has passed passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, mandating the top 8 food allergens appear on labels in plain English! The voluntary labeling over the past few years has been very helpful. Well, some of it has — the “processed in a facility that also processes XYZ” labels mainly amount to a CYA statement, although I’m sure there are people sensitive enough that it does help.
The NPR story provided some examples of why this matters, including a story of a college student who had a very similar experience to one I had a few years ago: he bought a chocolate chip cookie from a vending machine — a brand he had been eating with no problems for several years — but they had added peanut flour to their mix without labeling the change. He died within 15 minutes. When it happened to me, I had enough medication to stop it. But I don’t eat anything from Famous Amos anymore.
Some other nice provisions include having the FDA do a study on cross-contamination [archive.org], and having the CDC track allergy-related deaths.
Further reading: The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, The Food Allergy Initiative. [Update: The organizations have since merged as FARE.]