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Poor food labelling confuses allergy-sufferers

New research into food labelling reveals that a large portion of foods that are assessed to be safe for allergy sufferers receive no special labelling, leaving consumers confused and at risk.

Lead researcher Dr Giovanni Zurzolo said poor labelling is an issue because foods that do not undergo any risk assessments are also unlabelled.

While ‘may contain’ warnings are found on many products, as many as one-third of processed foods including cereals, sauces and snacks, have been assessed as safe yet remain unlabelled.

As a result, people with allergies either take a risk when purchasing foods, or avoid all of them and limit their diet.

Victoria has one the highest rates of food allergies in the world, leaving many cautious about what they eat, particularly when it comes to processed foods.

The research suggests that if ‘permissive labelling’ was adopted, it would allow people with allergies to make informed decisions about which products were safe as well as those that were potentially dangerous.

Dr Zurzolo and his team contacted 137 manufacturers at 454 manufacturing sites across Australasia for the study.

The Australian-first study was conducted in collaboration with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

It was published in the Clinical & Experimental Allergy journal


Dr Giovanni Zurzolo is a postgraduate fellow at VU’s Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management.

He is also a researcher at the Centre for Food Allergy Research at Murdoch Children's Research Institute.

He is available for interview on 0401 405 353.

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