‘Also’ Adds to the Nut Confusion at Tesco

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By Nut-allergy Alexis
Tesco have caused a bit of a furore recently by changing some of their allergy labelling.  Their labelling has long been rather controversial with nut allergy sufferers, as it individually specifies whether the recipe uses nuts, whether the ingredients have a risk of contamination with nuts, or whether the factory uses nuts.  Some see this as a useful method of assessing risk, others note that many items are labelled ‘cannot guarantee nut free’ and feel that it is primarily a legalistic exercise.

The New EU regulations which come into force in December 2014 require allergens to be highlighted in the ingredients list, commonly by being shown in bold. Tesco has for many of its own branded products chosen to tag on another warning “Also, may contain nuts”.  Check out  Tesco Everyday Valued Chicken Dippers on the Tesco website, or the back label  below of Tesco Apple Squash.

Tesco No added Sugar Apple Squash Double Strength.

This seems rather unsafe, as there are now four places an allergy sufferer has to check on Tesco food:

1)    The ingredients list – where any nut-containing ingredients should be highlighted in bold
2)    The ‘Contains’ line
3)    Tesco’s breakdown of the recipe, ingredients, and factory risk
4)    Whether their ‘also, may contain nuts’ disclaimer is present

It’s not surprising that many parents of nut-allergic children are up in arms about this and have created a petition to try to persuade Tesco to stop using what appears to be a generic disclaimer rather than appropriately labelling food according to risk.

So far this is proving to be a bit of a PR own goal for Tesco, and it is to be hoped that it motivates them to clean up their act with regards to labelling.  At the best the plethora of allergy advice on their products is confusing, at the worst it could lead to genuine risk being discounted by consumers.

Other supermarkets use labelling which is much more straightforward.  From the end of the year the new ‘highlighted allergens’ will make shopping easier for those who have to screen their food to prevent a serious reaction. Do you agree?

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Fabulous Bakin’ Boys Lemon Cupcakes
A nut allergic treat, a balanced mixture of sweet and sour that should appeal to children as well as adults.  Tasted by Nut-allergy Alexis.
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