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  • Jefferson Adams

    UK Companies Pull Nearly Seventy Products Over Undeclared Allergens

    Jefferson Adams


    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Retailers and manufacturers have been forced to recall sixty-eight products linked to potentially lethal allergies or food intolerances due to improper labeling. There have been several cases of accidental exposure to allergens causing death.


    Caption: Image: CC--Jason McKnight

    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.



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    The figures suggest that companies may have supply, formulation, and/or manufacturing issues that leave them out of touch with the ingredients in their products.

    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.


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    I suppose this is a big deal if done all at once (70 products), but in the United States, the FDA and USDA issue almost daily emails of recalled products containing undeclared allergens (not counting all those with bacterial contamination).  Anyone can sign up to receive notifications .  

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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