Confusing wording may lead to increased food allergy risks

New research has found that the wording of particular allergy warning labels may lead to different perceptions of risk for the same danger.

The research which is collaboration between the Victoria University, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Royal Children’s Hospital included a survey of over 250 parents of children with a history of anaphylaxis.

The research found that parents displayed different levels of caution depending on the wording of allergen warnings – regardless of actual risk levels.

Giovanni Zurzolo, lead author of the study said that 65 percent of parents ignored label warnings such as ‘made in the same factory’ as allergenic foods, and 22 percent of parents ignored labels with warnings such as allergens ‘may be present.’

“Although these warnings may actually represent the same or similar levels of risk, consumers perceived different risks based on the different wording of precautionary labels,” said Zurzolo.

Zurzolo said that his results were highly concerning and highlighted inadequacies in food labelling legislation.

“Policies that promote greater clarity and consistent use of precautionary statements may help to deal with this complacency,” he said.

Professor Katie Allen, lead researcher and Director of Population Health at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, said that the issue demands attention as is effects the entire community.

“Ultimately we need to balance issues of safety for those who are exquisitely sensitive to food allergens with the requirement for food to be cost-effectively produced,” she said.


Send this to a friend