May contain, not suitable for, made in a factory handling, produced on a line handling… all these label variations become a commonplace inconvenience for anyone shopping with a food allergy or intolerance in mind. But are they over complicated? and do you get confused?
More worrying still, are manufacturers actually giving us a) correct and b) enough information, so we can make an informed choice about whether to eat stuff?
Marks & Spencer crisps, and especially their Prawn Crackers and Ham and Mustard large bags have always been on my safe list; they contain no dairy, celery, nuts or tomato and no ‘may contain’ warnings. This led me to assume that they were safe for an allergy sufferer like myself.
However, along with new packaging, they now BOTH include the following warning:
Not suitable for COW’S MILK, CELERY and GLUTEN allergy sufferers due to manufacturing methods used.
I contacted Marks & Spencer to clarify where things stood with these crisps, why the change in labelling on two products I’d been eating without any problems, and also, if the packaging on these had changed, how were plain crisp varieties effected? I also asked them about their biscuits since I’ve always been able to eat their digestive and ginger snap biccies.
This is what they said:
“I can confirm our digestive biscuits do not contain any dairy ingredients, however they have been produced on a line handling milk so we cannot guarantee they are completely dairy free.”
The packaging on these biscuits doesn’t state this – more new packaging on the way folks I fear…
“Our digestive biscuits are free from nuts. Our ginger snaps also do not contain nuts, however with this item there is possible cross contamination due to factory processes, so we cannot state these are nut free.”
Here the labelling is correct in that the ginger snap biscuits DO contain a nut warning, but NOT a may contain dairy warning…though they do warn about contamination from soya, wheat and gluten. Am I just getting picky now?
Marks and Spencer flavoured crisps
“The reason for us stating our flavoured crisps have a warning stating they are not suitable for cow’s milk, soya, wheat and gluten allergy sufferers is again due to possible cross contamination from factory processes, as these crisps are produced on a line handling milk, soya, wheat and gluten.
I can confirm our plain crisps do not contain dairy or nuts, however they are produced on a line handling milk so we cannot state they are suitable for people with dairy allergies because there is a slight risk of cross contamination.”
Again, M&S plain crisps don’t contain ANY warnings. More new packaging to come? Is the risk too low to worry when eating plain crisps? or could someone with a really severe allergy be sensitive enough to react to even plain crisps? Have any tests been done on plain crisps to ascertain the level of cross contamination, if any? How difficult would this be?
Does this mean that ALL crisp manufacturers have the same issues? Walkers Ready Salted crisps, Kettle chips, you name it, are they all guilty or underestimating the cross contamination from their flavoured varieties? Have any of you ever had a reaction for plain crisps? Are plain crisps safe? Confused?