retail news in context, analysis with attitude

HealthDay News reports that a new study scheduled to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology says that “a small number of food products with a ‘may contain’ label actually do contain an allergen, while about 2 percent of foods products without such a claim also contain allergens.”

As explained by HealthDay News, “The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) required new labels on packaged foods containing ‘major food allergens,’ which were defined as milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans, or any other ingredient that contains protein derived from one of these foods or food groups. Among other things, the labels had to include plain-English descriptions of ingredients and possible allergens. For example, ‘milk’ is used instead of ‘casein.’

“But the issue of ‘may contain’-type labels was not addressed. Such warnings can include ‘may contain peanuts,’ ‘processed on shared equipment,’ or ‘manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts or milk’.”

One of the conclusions reached by the study is that foods manufactured by smaller companies seem to be more risky than those made by big companies – apparently because small manufacturers don't have the kind of oversight provided by their larger brethren.

KC's View:
It occurred to me when reading this story that this is one of the potential pitfalls facing private label products, which are going to have to be very careful that as they offer a less expensive yet “equivalent” experience to shoppers, they also offer an “equivalent” level of safety.