For people who care about their food

Warning! Packet of nuts contains peanuts

I found this on the Food Standards Agency website a couple of days back:

Food Standards Agency
ASDA RECALLS WHOLEFOODS ORGANIC ROASTED MIXED NUTS
Asda has recalled its Wholefoods Organic Roasted Mixed Nuts (200g) because the product contains peanuts, which are not mentioned on the product label. This means the product is a possible health risk for individuals with an allergy to peanuts. The Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.
http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2008/jul/peanuts

Hmm, I thought. Is this yet another one of those silly cases where Nanny’s making a company spell out the bleedin’ obvious to us?

You know the sort of thing: woman successfully sues fast food company for getting scalded because she didn’t know her coffee was going to be hot. So every fast food company adds warning labels to their coffee cups on the CYA principle.

Unshelled peanutsA couple of years ago Mr Not Delia bought a bag of nuts from some supermarket chain or other and was surprised to see the words “Contains nuts” on the packet. What should he have expected it to contain? Marshmallows? Iron filings? Pixie snot?

I’m all in favour of consumers not being kept in the dark about what they’re buying. Having spent several years living in South Asia and buying spices in the local markets, I’m all too familiar with adulterated goods. (Fancy some brick dust in your chilli powder, anyone?) And I can see why someone with an allergy might want to be sure that the ready meal they’re eyeing up in Waitrose doesn’t contain an ingredient that will make it the last meal they ever eat.

But for heaven’s sake, shouldn’t there be limits to how much we let Nanny take responsibility for our lives? If someone’s so thick that they don’t realise that a bag of nuts contains nuts, it sounds to me as if we ought to let natural selection have free rein.

Anyway, back to the Asda alert. A quick bit of research showed that in fact this isn’t one of those cases. It turns out that peanuts aren’t nuts at all. They’re actually legumes – like peas, lentils and, for the horticulturally inclined, lupins. And it’s perfectly possible that someone with a peanut allergy isn’t allergic to true nuts, and vice versa.

So if you’re planning to cook for guests, and you know one of your guests has a nut allergy, you may still be able to use your favourite peanut oil. But better check first, eh?

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