Results of Informal Chocolate Samples
Earlier this year this Authority launched a pilot project aimed at gathering information to inform the “May Contain Nuts” debate currently concerning consumers, retailers and manufacturers. The issues raised centre around the possible overuse of the wording, which is not only causing complacency amongst some allergy sufferers but restricts customer choice and with the numbers of those affected increasing, limits potential markets for the retailer.
With 1 in 50 children suffering such allergies not to mention the affected adults it could be suggested that there is still a significant demand for nut free products or much more targeted labelling. Many sufferers have allergies to specific nuts rather than all nuts, test kits exist to detect trace level contamination a number of nut types but are not widely used by the industry.
Samples were taken of chocolate which did not contain any nuts in the ingredients but carried a May Contain warning. All samples taken were submitted to the Scientific Services Laboratory in Worcestershire who are our partners in this project. Tests were undertaken to detect the presence of Hazelnuts, Almonds, Peanuts and Walnuts. At the time of sampling it was not possible to test for Brazil Nuts. In total 36 samples of chocolate were submitted during this initial study.
The following samples were taken from your outlet (ADDRESS ) on the (DATE)
Product Batch Number Allergen Labelling Result
Samples (?) were found to be free of any traces of the nuts listed above. Sample (?) was found to contain traces of (?).
As the initial samples were one off 'grab' samples the results cannot be deemed to be representative of your full production process we do not recommend any changes to your labelling at this stage.
One significant finding related to those using chocolate crumb which was not labelled with any warning. The chocolate produced from this crumb had no traces of the nuts we were able to test for but was still labelled with the generic “May Contain” warning. Whilst some labelling may still be regarded as necessary if the crumb is exposed to nuts during processing, this study suggests such labelling could be much more specific
We shortly intend to publish the findings but wish to reassure you that we will not release any sensitive information (Company names etc). We already know that this pilot is to be evaluated prior to the launch of a comprehensive National survey by the Food Standards Agency. We may need to contact you again shortly to ask a few questions before we can finalise our report. Could you please contact Deborah Lear, the Project Leader e-mail deborah_Lear@bathnes.gov.uk or telephone 01225 477508 with your preferred contact details.
If you would like to discuss this further please contact Kelvin Pearce, Principal Environmental Health Officer on 01225 477508 or e-mail Kelvin_pearce@bathnes.gov.uk For technical information on the analytical methods used please email Paul Hancock at PHancock@worcestershire.gov.uk
May I take this opportunity to thank you all for your co-operation.
Principal Environmental Health Officer