Monday, November 26, 2012

Label Confusion

I recently came across a candy product that had the ingredients labeled this way:

Ingredients: milkfat, soy lecithin, milk (among a long list of other ingredients)
Allergy information: May contain tree nuts

Is this labeled correctly according FDA rules?
Yes, it is.
Is this confusing? Yes, it is.

This product actually contains milk and soy (although the soy may just be fats and not proteins). The product is not intended to include nuts of any kind, but is either processed on equipment that also processes nuts (likely, given that this was a candy product) or in a facility that processes nuts.

The labeling laws require that the top eight food allergens be listed using the common name (in this case milk and soy) either in the ingredients list, or called out below the ingredients list. In this case the manufacturer used the common terms in the ingredient list, thereby complying with the law. The allergen statement below the ingredients list is voluntary, and in this case was used to alert the consumer of the potential for contamination with tree nuts.

If you were in a hurry and checked only the voluntary “allergen information” statement, you may unintentionally purchase (and/or eat) a product that contains your food allergen.

This is why you must always read the entire ingredients label. And this is why we need more clarity in food allergen labeling laws.


Michelle said...

Agreed. The same for products containing GMOs. Consumers are entitled to know.

Colette said...

Michelle, I agree! We should have information on GMOs.

Kathryn @ Mamacado said...

Wow, this is a really good reminder Colette. I forwarded it to family members. Thanks.