Nut warning needs more detail
Generic warnings on food labels, such as ‘may contain nuts’, could be dropped in favour of more detail. Many manufacturers who use an allergenic ingredient now use ‘may contain’ warnings, in cases where products may be mixed in by accident.
However, despite growing concern about the risks posed by food allergens, the food industry, consumers and regulators believe that excessive use of the generic warning could restrict consumer choice and undermine the impact of food safety warnings.
With this in mind, the Food Standards Agency’s consultation paper, entitled ‘Guidance on Allergen Control and Consumer Information’, proposes draft guidance for food manufacturers and retailers on how and when to use such warnings so that a warning is only given when necessary.
“Food manufacturers should welcome this further practical guidance on how and when to use warnings about the possible presence of food allergens, commented Owen Warnock of the law firm Eversheds.“One interesting suggestion is that the warnings should be precise: ‘May contain nuts’ will put a consumer off a product if he or she is, like me, allergic to hazelnuts, even though the product may only contain walnuts or brazil nuts. The draft guidance recommends that the consumer gets the detail.
“The current consultation proposes that this guidance is voluntary. However, the industry may find that this leaves things too open to interpretation and more definitive, regulatory guidance may be preferred.