Friday, 21 September 2012

It's a slippery slope from 'contain' to 'may contain'

Last week we mentioned on the blog that new rules on labelling food products have been accepted by the European Parliament (New regulations on food labelling coming up...). It seems that at least some Parliament's members are still not happy with the state of the European legislation concerning food labels. The main issue that was raised at this week's event that was hosted by the European federation of allergy and airways diseases patients' association (EFA) concerned the 'may contain' labelling and cross contamination information on food product packaging. The problem is the lack of a specific definition of 'may contain' label at a European level. (EU food labelling rules do 'not go far enough') There should be some yardstick according to which regulators and producers could measure the risk of a certain ingredient appearing in a product. Currently, consumers may either unnecessarily follow the 'may contain' labels (when producers cover their backs by including almost any known allergen on the list of what their product may contain) or ignore them, disregarding the potential risk that may be higher than just a mere possibility of the food being contaminated with a given allergen (the disbelief in such warning labels will likely follow excessive, untrue disclosures). There are also no clear rules about disclosing the risk of accidental contamination to consumers, which is often the case of allergens finding their way to some products.

Label on this salmon salad informs us under 'allergy information' not only as to what it contains (fish, mustard, etc.) but also that it may negatively influence attention and concentration of children! Is that something we should be allergic to?

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