Appendix 1: Protocol & Sampling Proforma

Bath and North East Somerset “May Contain Nuts” Study

Protocol 2010/11

 1.    Introduction

The aim of this study is to identify, through laboratory analysis, the presence of specific nut allergens in a range of chocolate sold with the general warning “May Contain Nuts” to assess if the use of the term is appropriate.

The period for collecting samples begins on the 6th December 2010 – 28 February 2010.

Samples are to be submitted for analysis to the accredited Scientific Services laboratory situated in Worcester.

Results will be collated by the project leader and a final report will be produced after the end of the study.

The report will be followed up by a report on the results to raise awareness and to suggest possible future UK wide study into the labelling of allergens.


 2.    Eligible Outlets

Samples will be taken of chocolate available for sale in the local area with a particular emphasis being placed on local small and medium scale production. Premises excluded from the study are those selling imported chocolate only.

Market stalls and small production units may be included in the study if the chocolate available for sampling is pre-wrapped and labelled “May contain nuts” or words to that effect.

3.    Eligible Foods

Samples can be either pre-packed but must be labelled with a warning about the possible presence of nuts. Samples can also be taken from loose chocolate if there is a clear warning displayed about the possible presence of nuts.

Samples are to be obtained by Officers who are competent and have been instructed in the requirements of the survey. Officers should refrain from eating nuts or nut containing products whilst carrying out this survey. Ideally hands and any sampling equipment should be thoroughly washed prior to sampling. 

A target number of 12 outlets will be sampled with 3 samples being taken from each giving an overall total of 36 samples. This number may vary if on visiting the outlets identified they fail to fall into the eligible outlets.

The Project Leader will ensure that there is no unnecessary duplication of samples.

4.          Sampling

The cost of the sampling and analysis for this project will be funded by Bath and North East Somerset Council under their existing agreement with Worcestershire Scientific Services.


Samples are to be obtained where possible from retail outlets; they are normally to be obtained informally and anonymously, that is, sampling officers will initially act as ordinary customers. Once the sample is paid for it will be necessary for the Officer to explain who they are and why the sample has been taken in order to ask further information about the production environment.

Any signs indicating the chocolate may contain nuts should be photographed as a record for the study. This is particularly important where chocolate is unwrapped.

The minimum size of a sample is 100g, although samples can be larger.

Milk/plain or white chocolate which clearly states that nuts are not a specific ingredient should be taken provided there is either signage or labelling to state “may contain nuts”.

Three samples of the same product are to be taken from each outlet. These samples should be from different batches, it may not be possible to take all three on the same date.

Samples are to be submitted in their original unopened packaging suitably labelled for identification and sealed in a food grade plastic sampling bag.

Samples should be submitted to the laboratory within an agreed timeframe as this will increase efficiency and ensure the cost remains within budget.

Samples are to be delivered to the laboratory as soon as reasonably practicable via the laboratory collection service. Samples that are stored prior to collection should be stored securely in a lidded box and clearly labelled with when they are to be collected. Samples should be identified by the project code

 5.         Documentation

Details of each sample are to be recorded on a sample form.

Details to include any written information on allergens, details of production environment and any use of nuts on the manufacturing premises or suppliers


  1. Methods and Analysis  


Samples will be analysed using Elisa immunoaffinity.



  1. Results and Reporting –


A test report will be generated for each sample, and a summary spreadsheet produced at the end of the project.



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