Not already a member? join us
Helpline: 01252 542029
Please add your search terms here, then press Enter or click go.
‘May contain’ labelling is described under numerous terms including precautionary or advisory labelling. The food industry’s intention is to warn allergic consumers that cross-contamination may have occurred somewhere along the supply chain.
“May contain” labelling is so widespread that many people suspect it is adopted by manufacturers as a substitute for cleaning their production lines thoroughly. For that reason many people ignore these warnings. In our view, that is risky behaviour. Although some manufacturers may regard “may contain” as a convenient get-out, many of them do their best to minimise risk and use warning labels only as a last resort.
If you eat a product carrying a warning and don't have a reaction, you may believe you can continue to buy it and eat it. That may put you at some risk. You might eat a product numerous times without reacting, but small quantities of the allergen may be present next time you buy it.
The use of "may contain" warnings is voluntary and not required under the food labelling laws. However, industry is well aware that the General Product Safety Regulations place a requirement on suppliers to communicate any risk associated with their product to the consumer.
The problem of inconsistency aggravates the confusion. The label may say "not suitable for nut allergy sufferers"or it may state "made in a factory where nuts are handled". There are a number of variations, all of which combine to perplex the shopper. Sometimes the warning is difficult to locate and the shopper may spend many minutes scouring the pack – eventually finding it well away from the ingredient list, in miniscule type, under a flap. We urge food companies to place their warnings in legible type next to the ingredient list.
The following websites may be helpful in further understanding these issues.
Guidance for manufacturers: http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/maycontainguide.pdf
Guidance for consumers: