Products recalled for potential salmonella fear and we talk about may contain warnings, a label which isn't actually compulsory.
Over the last year there have been so many recalls, we saw a recall of large proportions back in June due to the incorrect flour being used, this recall saw gluten free pizza bases, crumpets, pittas, scones and muffins all having to be recalled from a variety of manufacturers including Sainsburys, Genius, Tesco and Livwell. Full recall info that that particular incident is here
After that there was a recall of free from products but this time not due to gluten being present but instead it was salmonella causing the issue, more on that one here
. This one only seemed to effect wafers though and wasn't as big of a problem as the previous incident.
However all the time products slip though, like the latest 2 recalls, Kimm & Miller Ltd recalls Hairy Bikers Tasty Trio Condiment Selection (pack of 3 bottles)
which has been recalled today
(3rd Nov - affected batches only in Boots) and The Co-operative Loved by Us Chicken and Chorizo Paella
which was recalled yesterday
. Both of these were recalled because of undeclared allergens, the condiments due to barley, egg, milk, mustard and sulphites and the paella due too undeclared wheat, so both pose a risk to Coeliacs and allergy sufferers.
With these new recalls, and Coeliac UK kindly pointing out via social media that some manufacturers were beginning to withdraw the use of "may contain" warnings, in line with the new labelling guidelines which were put in place last year, we started to wonder how are we suppose to know what is safe to eat these days.
Obviously the easiest solution is eat fresh produce but for most people that's not always easy to do, these days the majority of people rely on fast convenience food. When we think about it anything is at risk of experiencing a fault so we can't foresee whether something could end up recall, that just life, but should the may contains really be removed?
If you buy a bar of chocolate and it has a "may contain wheat" warning, do you eat it? I don't just because I know there is a chance that that bar of chocolate has been contaminated while in the factory, however if it says nothing I'll chance it, automatically assuming there is no may contain so it must be ok, but that isn't always the case as I experienced recently.
Iceland's Slimming World range does not have a may contain warning on so I bought a few products which looked fine, however it was pointed out to me on Facebook that head office had told consultants that there was a high risk of contamination with gluten, yet the packet said nothing even though it warned of other allergens. I even emailed Slimming World to find out whether the information I had been told was true...and it was. Yet they skirted round the fact that it listed other allergens as a may contain so never actually told me why they couldn't have listed gluten too.
Anyway, the food.gov site have a may contain guide
for manufacturers available to see which points out that the adivse is voluntary, manufacturers don't have to use it. The foreword states this "Recent changes in food labelling legislation have led to significant improvements in the labelling of allergenic ingredients in foods, but this legislation does not address concerns about possible allergen cross contamination. Whilst some food producers and retailers are already using various forms of advisory labelling to warn consumers about such risks, consumers are concerned about the possible overuse of such labelling and find the variety of phrases used confusing."
Apparently us consumers find the may contains confusing, well I will agree but only when it says "see in bold allergens which may include gluten", that ones the daddy of confusing, but it is a warning it doesn't mean the allergens in bold DO contain gluten, just that they might.
As it states may contains are voluntary, obviously some do and don't use it and it's not always easy to know what's safe and as it seems even more manufacturers are withdrawing the use of this box it makes it even more complicated. So what should you do? How do you know if it's been in contact with gluten? In short...you don't. Coeliac UK's app will have a lot of products they know are safe so signing up to them is always worth the money, however they don't have everything it depends whether the manufacturer has submitted their info to them, the other option is contact the manufacturer and see if they can tell you, just because they don't print it doesn't mean they don't know. you may find they also have the information on their FAQ pages or even have an allergy info section on their website.
With the info being voluntary we hope a lot of people keep the may contains, it makes like so much easier, but knowing your labels and researching helps a lot too, if you find something you're not sure about, ask the manufacturer and when you know its safe make a note, I keep a notepad of all the stuff I know I can have so I remember for future reference. The only pain in the bum is finding something new in the supermarket, find it has no may contain info, risk buying it to find later you shouldn't have it!