Researchers at Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Australia reveal that parents find precautionary labels on foods unhelpful and confusing and often ignore the warnings, leading to increased risk of potentially life-threatening allergic reaction in their children who have a history of anaphylaxis.
Writing in the report, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the researchers said that while nearly two thirds of packaged food and snack food products contain allergy warning labels, the different forms of warnings mean that parents have no idea on which label to take seriously.
The researchers asked parents of nearly 500 children to fill out questionnaires and found that they took labels such as 'may contain' or 'may be present' most seriously while labels such as 'same factory' or 'same premises' were not taken seriously. Previous studies have shown that more number of products displaying labels such as 'shared facility' contain detectable peanut residues compared to products with labels such as 'may contain'.
"There are a lot of different labels being used and there are no guidelines for families about what these labels mean and what action they should take. It's important consumers have a voice as they are the ones making decisions about what they can or can't eat", lead researcher Professor Katie Allen said.