Q. What do the “May contain traces” statements mean on food and can my allergic child have them?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Wednesday, 26 February 2014.
Tagged: additives, allergies, allergy, food labels, label, nuts

Q. What do the “May contain traces” statements mean on food and can my allergic child have them?

A. The statement 'May contain traces of ..." is put onto food labels when manufacturers believe that the food is at risk of contamination from a problem ingredient such as peanuts or fish (called an allergen). This usually arises when nut-free biscuits, say, are baked on the same line as biscuits that have peanuts. Despite their best efforts to clean the production line, you can never rule out the chance that a small piece of peanut from one batch may accidentally get into another batch or dough.

The real risk of contamination will vary depending upon the manufacturer's reason for using the statement and is very difficult to interpret as a consumer.

Allergy specialists and organisations like Anaphylaxis Australia (www.allergyfacts.org.au) recommend you always heed the warning statements on these products. This is especially so if you or your child are at risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction. If in doubt about a product, always call the Customer Care centre of the manufacturers.

Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.