Friday, 7 March 2014

Food labelling on soya products has consumers going nuts!

Food labelling for many consumers is a matter of life or death, particularly if they or their child is subject to food allergies that can trigger encephalitic shock. Young children who have nut or dairy allergies are at extreme risk so many parents have to take extreme care in the food and drink they offer to them. It can be hard enough to be a parent of a child with a potential life threatening allergy, but trying to ensure that child gets the relevant vitamins and minerals they need to grow up strong and healthy, whilst balancing producing family meals that don’t trigger an allergic reaction can be a nightmare. Up until recently many families have been able to buy Alpro soya milk and yoghurts, enriched with calcium as a safe substitute for dairy products but all this has changed as one consumer on today’s Radio 4 You and Yours programme explained.

Manufacturing of nut based products sharing a space with soya foods

Alpro have now added the labelling “May contain nuts” to their products due to the fact that for commercial reasons they have had to move production of their almond and hazelnut products into the same place that manufactures the soya milk. Consumer forum groups were made aware of this as Alpro wanted to be as transparent as possible about what they were doing. They updated the information on their website to let consumers know that from 2014 these changes would be taking place. They have also put in place high standards of batch checking and cleaning to ensure cross contamination does not take place, but as one mother put it, “ if that is the case why do they need to state the product may contain nuts.”

Due to this change, her daughter’s nursery school will no longer be able to offer this product as an alternative to dairy, a product that she referred to as her “go to staple” replacement for dairy. The mother in question is not prepared to take any risk with her daughters health and also the coffee shops or restaurants she normally takes her family to, who also used the Alpro product, will probably not be willing to do so in the future.

Consumers campaigning for return to status quo

One hopeful sign is that Alpro have met with consumers campaigning against this move, and the reporter on You and Yours did state that Alpro are looking into the production of their Junior Soya Milk at a nut free site. Let’s hope they don’t delay this decision for too long not just for the health and wellbeing of our children but also for their social wellbeing and development. It is bad enough not to be able to eat the same dishes, sweets or puddings as your friends, but when it impacts on where you can go for a meal with your family, or you have to take your own food with you to parties because the “Go to staple” is not going to be available to you, then it does make life difficult. If you or your family are going to be affected by this change then let us know – we’re listening!

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