Experts warn of ambiguity surrounding allergy warning labels

29th April 2010 - Fine Cut

Supermarkets and manufacturers of food products have been warned that their 'over cautious' approach to allergy warning labels is creating ambiguity around the real dangers to certain consumers.

Too many warnings about the possible nut content of food items on product labels and food packaging are putting people at risk, claim experts from the Food Standards Agency. Grocer, a trade magazine, reports that allergy advisers have warned that many consumers don't believe the warnings on such labels because they are so widespread.

Data from 32 nut and peanut allergy patients who visited UK supermarkets anonymously on behalf of the FSA found that many shoppers struggled to assess the possible risk when buying products that "could contain nuts", due to the number that of warning labels that "appear unnecessarily."

The allergy advisers, including Hazel Gowland of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, were speaking in advance of an FSA report on allergen labelling to be published later this year.

"Every retailer wants their product to look different," said Gowland, "but a more qualitative and quantitative approach could be adopted by retailers and manufacturers across the board."

"Ideally packaging needs a description of why the product may contain nuts - not just that it does in decent sized writing in a prominent place."

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