Tesco nut warnings ‘too cautious’ say parents

This article originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph, April 22, 2014

Thousands of parents are petitioning Tesco, complaining that the supermarket chain is excessively labelling products with the warning: “May contain nuts”.

The supermarket has applied the cautious stickers to a range of goods, including: potatoes, tonic water, and fruit juice.

Mothers of children with nut allergies have responded that it is now impossible to feed their offspring if they take the policy at its word.

Almost 13,000 have signed the petition, which calls on Tesco to “Stop using blanket ‘may contain nuts’ labels”.

The petition was started by Claire Hussein, from Portsmouth, after she said that Tesco “dramatically changed its labelling policy”, which made it hard for her to feed her three-year-old daughter who is allergic to peanuts, eggs and dairy.

“Suddenly, many previously safe foods are now apparently unsafe as they have ‘may contain nuts’ on them,” she said.

“These products literally changed their allergy information overnight.

“We recognise there will be risk in some foods, such as chocolate and biscuits.

“However, when you attempt a weekly shop for your family and find that everything from baked beans to pizza, butternut squash, potatoes, fruit juice and more are suddenly labelled as being potentially unsafe it is very disruptive and leaves you with extremely limited options for feeding your family.”

Tesco said that the goods were previously marked as having been made in factories where nuts were used; however, new rules mean they have to use a bigger font.

In December, EU rules will come into effect, which will make the labelling of possible food allergens compulsory.

Tesco said: “Our first priority is always the safety of our customers and we take great care to label our products with allergy advice where necessary. We only display these warnings on products when then there is a risk of cross-contamination”.

Approximately one in 70 children are allergic to peanuts, and up to 10 people a year die from reactions caused by coming into contact with even minute quantities of peanuts.

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