Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has issued a reminder to all food businesses and importers that they must meet mandatory labelling requirements with regards to allergens.
For some time now, accurate allergen labelling on food products has been a crucial issue for both manufacturers and consumers. It’s currently estimated that around 4 to 6 percent of children struggle with serious food allergies, alongside 1 to 2 percent of adults.
In the last year, there have been various coconut-related products recalled for failing to list milk and similar by-products on the label. Green Time Natural Coconut Drink and Coco Joy Coconut milk were both recalled due to undeclared allergens.
The Sydney-based importer responsible for mislabelling Green Time Coconut Drink recently pled guilty to food labelling-related charges linked to the tragic death of a 10-year-old boy. The firm was accused of changing the label on the can so that the milk content of the coconut drink was not listed.
The child, who reportedly suffered from an allergy to dairy, died after experiencing an anaphylactic reaction to the coconut drink in December 2013.
The high number of recalled coconut-related products pushed state authorities to investigate similar items being sold on the market. Later, testing caused a further 10 coconut products to be recalled for lack of allergen warnings.
The Importance of Declaring Allergens
The government argued that importers have a responsibility to declare allergens, as undeclared allergens pose a significant risk to human health. FSANZ have commented that certain foods and their ingredients can lead to severe and even life-threatening allergic reactions.