Food Allergies

Study: Consumers Don't Understand Food Allergy Labeling

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The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) recently published a study showing that post people with serious nut allergies believed that all food products that did not have an allergen warning label were safe. The study, conducted by the University of Surrey, examined the ways those with allergens avoid their 'trigger foods.'

The FSA said that most of the study participants did not understand that the allergen warning labels were voluntary, rather than required. Some incorrectly assumed that food products that did not carry the warning label were safe to eat. Most said that they relied more on the presence of an allergen warning box to make their food decisions than the full ingredient lists.

Many participants also ignored warnings that the food "may contain" nuts, describing such warnings as "not credible or desirable." Some study participants ignored it, although many other participants did avoid eating these products that may contain allergens. The FSA found that "The majority of participants felt that it was almost impossible to avoid eating all products with ‘may contain’ type labeling as doing so would result in a very limited diet."

Study advisor Hazel Gowland spoke about the food choices made by those with peanut allergies: "The daily dilemmas they face support the need for clear and legible labeling, transparency in the use of 'may contain' labeling and improved allergy information and food safety allergen controls in restaurants."

Read more about the study here: