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"may contain nuts" - meaningless waffle ....

(7 Posts)
babybarrister Wed 21-Sep-11 22:18:25

www.thisisbath.co.uk/alert-8216-contain-nut-8217-warnings-food/story-13366841-detail/story.html

greenbananas Fri 23-Sep-11 01:04:20

Well, I've read it twice through. Yes, most of it is basically filler/waffle, and I'll admit that the points made do seem fairly basic to those if us who deal with allergies and food labels on a daily basis, but I do think it could be worse. To be fair, it doesn't poke fun at allergies, and that journalist is quite right to want "a consistent and reliable approach to allergy warnings".

I'm a little-teeny-tiny bit annoyed by the overwhelming emphasis on nut allergies alone (reading this, it does seem as if nut allergies are the only ones that can be fatal, but my DS is allergic to all sorts of things and I know this isn't true). Also, I don't think the 'research' was entirely fair (e.g. factory machines making sticky things like chocolate are hard to clean, so foods produced in chocolate-producing factories are more likely to be contaminated than the mineral water which also displays a 'may contain nuts' warning).

However, all things considered, I'm really very happy that this local newspaper has chosen to run their 'allergy story' - they are helping to raise a positive awareness of allergies, and surely that can only be good?

Thumbwitch Fri 23-Sep-11 01:58:54

Can't actually see the problem with it, tbh.
Peanuts are one of the few allergens that can cause anaphylaxis just by being in the same room as them (airborne particulate matter) - so the warning makes sense and people would do well to consider the wider implications of "may contain nuts/traces of nuts" or some other warning that suggests it was produced in a place that also produce nut-containing foods.

It's more informative than you seem to believe as it's designed to reduce complacency.

babybarrister Fri 23-Sep-11 13:49:00

sorry - I was not clear - I certainly did not mean that the ARTICLE was meaningless waffle - far from it! but that the phrase "may contain nuts" was meaningless waffle ....!!

inmysparetime Fri 23-Sep-11 13:57:09

You'd have thought by now companies would have wised up to the premium on nut free factories, or could club together so a few companies share nut-free production lines. It does annoy me that my DS has to avoid so many foods because they can't be bothered to clean equipment properly.

Thumbwitch Fri 23-Sep-11 15:12:49

oh that makes more sense, babybarrister smile

But still - it is useful as you could see from the article - and from the fact that even minute trace amounts could cause anaphylaxis in the most sensitive individuals.

inmysparetime - I agree that there should, by now, be some dedicated equipment/factories that have no nuts on the premises. Trouble is, it's not always just the factories - sometimes it's the storage and transport of the ingredients, so the manufacturers are covering themselves for all eventualities. It's not a compulsory label, either - they don't have to do it (although I think they should have to do it).

Your point about "not being bothered to clean equipment properly" is harsh - the equipment in question is often enormous and would require at least an entire day's shut down to clean thoroughly to ensure no trace of particulate matter was left - loss of productivity precludes this on an economic basis.

ClaireOB Fri 23-Sep-11 16:42:59

Came across this a little while ago. Some people from the Food Standards Agency went nut free for a week to get a glimpse of the reality of living with a nut allergy. Comments also interesting. Sue Hattersley (one of those taking the challenge)from FSA commented on 30 August:

"...First, there is an overuse of precautionary labelling with phrases such as ‘may contain nuts’. Our best practice guidance for allergen advisory labelling recommends that precautionary labelling only be applied following a thorough risk assessment where there is a demonstrable and significant risk of allergen cross-contamination that cannot be eliminated

However, there is as yet no consensus about the level at which allergens can be present and not be a problem for food allergic consumers. The Agency is working with its key stakeholders in the UK and internationally to agree allergen management thresholds for the unintentional presence of allergens in food. We hope to have indicative levels published in the next year or two. ..."

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