Celiac.com 12/14/2018 - As the popularity of gluten- and allergen-free foods have exploded, so has the list of manufacturers rushing new products to market. Several studies have shown that numerous restaurant and commercial foods labeled as ‘gluten-free’ contain unacceptable gluten levels. Meanwhile, other news has revealed that many supermarket products labeled gluten-free in fact contain unacceptable levels of wheat.
Now, news in from the UK says that manufacturers were forced to recall sixty-eight products linked to potentially lethal allergies or food intolerances due to being improper labeling. There have been several cases of accidental exposure to allergens causing death. Partly as a result, a renewed diligence among grocers and manufacturers has led to a number of product recalls. Recalled products include yogurt, salad dressing, supermarket croissants, biscuits and cottage pies.
Recent major product recalls in the UK include:
- Sainsbury's in-store bakery All Butter Croissant recalled over undeclared almonds.
- Quorn’s recall packs of Gluten Free Burgers due to undeclared gluten.
- M&S’s recall of Gluten Free Scotch Eggs due to undeclared gluten.
- Mary Berry's Salad Dressing’s recall due to undeclared egg.
- Tesco’s recall of Hearty Food Company Cottage Pie and Hearty Food Company Sausage and Mash due to undeclared milk.
Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City, University of London, said: "The recent deaths ought to be a wake-up call. Labeling is not working and confidence is falling. This is not a good state of affairs."
The Food & Drink Federation (FDF), which speaks for manufacturers, said that, under UK regulations, “If a pre-packed food or drink product contains any of the 14 food allergens it must be declared and emphasized within the ingredients list.” The FDF advises that "In the unlikely event that once a product has shipped, a business discovers that this labeling has not been done correctly, it is their responsibility to inform the Food Standards Agency and immediately recall the product."
The British Retail Consortium, which speaks for the major chains, said: "Supermarkets are fully aware of how crucial allergen labeling is. That's why in the small number of cases where an ingredient is not correctly labeled, retailers withdraw the product and notify the FSA."
With numerous studies, products recalls, and news stories calling attention to the problem of gluten contamination in gluten-free food, look for retailers and manufacturers to take a more aggressive role in policing their labels, if only to escape the action of regulators and litigators.