The investigation initiated by Great Italian Food Trade on Corporations compliance with the allergens information rules continues. After Mulino Bianco (Barilla), it’s now the turn of Nestlé. From bad to worse.
Nestlé, 13 allergens hidden in 3 labels
Three labels of products distributed by the Nestlé group in Italy have been examined:
– Nestlé Fitness original, ‘guaranteed whole grains’. (1) Precautionary indication relating to allergens, (2) ‘may contain peanuts, nuts, milk’,
– Nestlé dark chocolate, ‘dark chocolate’. Gluten free. ‘May contain milk and nuts’.
And dulcis in fundo (as an euphemism!),
– Nestlé Galak, white chocolate. ‘May contain cereals containing gluten and nuts’.
The word ‘nuts’ – which recurs on the three labels – hides however 8 different allergenic ingredients. Precisely: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashew nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts or Queensland nuts. (3)
The term ‘gluten-containing cereals’, on the Galak label, in turn, hides 6 allergenic ingredients: wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelled, kamut (or khorasan) and their hybridized strains. (4)
The legal obligation to provide specific allergens information on food labels was introduced in Europe in 2003. Food Information Regulation has strengthened the protection of allergic consumers by prescribing the graphic evidence of allergens in the ingredients list, (5) and information on foods administered by communities. (6)
The European Commission – General Director for Health and Food Safety – reiterated once again, in July 2017, how the aforementioned rules must be applied. With appropriate Guidelines, which underline, inter alia, that ‘the ingredient must be indicated with a clear reference to the specific denomination of the type of nuts‘. The same applies to single cereals containing gluten.
The food is dangerous for public health without the necessary information to guarantee the safety of its consumption, even by vulnerable groups of consumers such as allergic and celiac subjects. (7) The competent health authorities should therefore impose, also to Nestlé, the modification of labels and the adoption of corrective measures on products already distributed. In addition to applying every penalty in the case.
Legality and respect towards consumers are the basis of the social pact that everyone must honor. SMEs like Big Food and control authorities. From which it is legitimate to wait for a diligent enforcement activity – to date, lacking – against a group with a €77 billion turnover. (8) In order to safeguard food safety and fight against food frauds. (9)
(1) Integral cereals ‘guaranteed’ in what sense? What distinguishes the cereals used by Nestlé compared to those used by the competition? The news escapes the average consumer, in possible violation of the reg. EU 1169/11, Article 7.1.c
(2) C.d. Precautionary Allergen Labeling, PAL. V. article
(3) See reg. EU 1169/11, Annex II, point 8
(4) Idem c.s., point 1. The European Commission, in the Guidelines cited below, also indicated spelled to be considered among the hybrid species.
(5) See reg. EU 1169/11, Article 21
(6) Ibidem, article 44.2
(7) See the notion of ‘food at risk’ offered by reg. EC 178/02, art. 14
(8) The turnover of the Nestlé Group amounts to approximately 77 billion euros (89.5 billion CHF to be exact, data for 2016)
(9) We still recall the commercial fraud perpetrated by San Pellegrino, Nestlé group, on ‘cedar without cedar’. It is also still unpunished, as far as we know