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misleading or nonexistent labelling

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By marla on Thu, 01-25-01, 17:17

I see that there has been a long-running discussion about labels. Like most of you, at least once a week I get totally fed up at the grocery store, trying to find "safe" products.
I was surprised to find out last week from a very helpful supervisor at Trader Joe's, for instance, that the "may contain nuts" label is voluntary, and that several products that I had bought there before (without those words) could actually be nut-contaminated. In fact, one kind of cooky had no warning on one box and a warning on the other. In other words, the absence of a label may mean the product is nut-free or it may mean the manufacturer doesn't bother or may be waiting to change the labels.
My husband joked that the best idea would be a small symbol to mark a completely nut-free product, something like the Kosher sign that appears on so many foods. Actually, I think it's a great idea. I, for one, would be happy to purchase crackers, cookies, and cereals that could be guaranteed nut-free, and to be able to quickly scan a label for a symbol. If manufacturers realized that there was a market out there (as the people who started Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates did)perhaps they wouldn't mind the extra effort on their part. Basically I'm fed up with seeing labels that tell me what I can't eat; I want to see something positive out there.

Also I wanted to say that we buy a lot of British products, and have noticed that sometimes if there are nuts as ingredients, it is marked in boldface on the package to make it easier to see without a magnifying glass, another idea that manufacturers here might look at.

With all the attention paid to organic food labelling and irradiated food labelling, I think the time has come for something more sophisticated than a blanket "may contain nuts" label, which I think is quickly becoming a cynical way for the manufacturers to avoid liability.

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