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  • Writer's picturefranceswalker@thefoodinto


MAY CONTAIN statements cause such confusion! For good reason.

The idea behind the 'MAY CONTAIN...' statement is to indicate if there is a risk of accidental contamination of a food with an allergen such as dairy, soy, gluten, egg, peanuts, individual tree nuts, eggs, and other major allergens during the manufacturer of the food.

It is a great idea in theory as it would be really useful to know if there is a risk of cross contamination of an allergen, for example dairy or nuts or gluten.

For people with severe IgE allergies (the type of allergies you can test for with ,blood tests and skin prick tests, and can carry a risk of anaphylaxis), knowing the risk of contamination would be useful in helping to avoid accidently eating or drinking the allergen.


In Australia, this MAY CONTAIN statement is unfortunately a voluntary statements made by food suppliers and the Food Standars Code does not regulate them.

This means there is no requirement to carry out this risk assessment, it is up to the company.

As a result, the following scenarios can play out.

In this scenario- the statement gives no insight whatsoever as to the potential risk of an allergen being in the food as a result of cross contamination. The potential risk could be low or high- there is no way that the conusmer can know this.

2. A MAY CONTAIN statement is added post a risk assesssment

The risk assessment is conducted following set questions/prompts to determine the potential risk of the allergen contamination.

Based on the results of this assessment, a conclusion as to the risk of contamination of the allergen (for example dairy) is reached.

If there is a significant enough potential risk then a 'may contain' statement is recommended, if the risk is low then use of this statement is not justified.

In this scenario, the MAY CONTAIN statement is useful and someone who has a serious allergy may decide to not eat this food.

3. There may be a risk of an allergen contamination but the company has not assessed for this so there is no MAY CONTAIN statement.

Most companies would not want consumers to be at risk of ingesting an accidental allergen they may react to so this is less likely to happen.

However, this is technically an outcome that could occur while the code reminas voluntary.


Until it is not a voluntary code, the vlaue of the 'may contain' statment does not offer any true insight into risk of dairy (or any other allergen) containination.

At the end of the day, a product without the 'may contain' statement may carry the same risk as another product with the 'may contain' statement- there is currently no way of the consumer being able to determine actual risk.

Whether you avoid a food based in this claim is personal preference only.

Many families choose to ignore 'MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF" statements as the alternative is then to elminate from the diet all commercial food products.

Discuss with your practitioner your best course of action, which will depend on the level of your reaction severity if consuming low level contamination of an allergen.



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