The table of results can be found in Appendix II. Of the 36 samples one (1a) did not state ‘may contain’ on the label and did not contain any nuts. Of the other 35, nuts/nut traces were found in 6, samples 2 a, b & c carried quite specific labelling, stating that hazelnuts were present in addition to nut traces. All three contained hazelnuts as expected but sample 2a also contained traces of peanut and almond and sample 2 c contained traces of almond. This was due to the use of hazelnut paste in the product itself and the ingredients of other products that were manufactured on the same production lines.
Two of the products, 3a & b contained hazelnut, in each case the label stated ‘may contain traces of nut’. Both of these samples were produced on a line that handled hazelnuts and almonds. The last sample found to have traces of nut was 6b which contained hazelnut and was labelled as ‘may contain nut traces.’ In this case no nuts were handled on site; the presence of hazelnut was due to reasons beyond the manufacturer’s control.
For the other 29 samples although the label stated that the product ‘may contain nuts’ none of them contained peanut, almond, walnut or hazelnut. It is important to remember that they were the only 4 nuts tested for during this sampling program. The reason for many manufacturers using the labelling term ‘may contain’ was in the main due to other products containing nuts that are produced on the same lines. Although some cleaning would be carried out between production runs it was not sufficient to eliminate the possibility of contamination completely.
The 3 samples from each manufacturer/retailer were taken ensuring that different batches and batch codes were used. Without checking the manufacturers records there is no way of knowing how far apart the samples were in production or whether the products that were confirmed as containing nut traces were at the beginning of a production run.
In addition to contamination via production, a number of manufacturers claimed that the crumb used to make the chocolate was the main source of potential contamination. No one seemed to have an explanation for this.
During the sample collection process a local manufacturer had crumb on site along with packaging which had been purchased wholesale via an importer from Belgium. After scrutinizing the labelling there was no indication of the presence of nuts for that particular brand, and maybe an area to investigate further.
Obtaining details about production and crumb for some of the samples proved difficult. In the main, this was due to being unable to contact the appropriate personnel within the organisation to disclose the information.