U.K.: bags of nuts recalled for lack of “Contains Nuts” warning

by Walter Olson on April 28, 2013

I’ve had fun before at the expense of warnings like “Contains Nuts” on a container of nuts. It’s not a phenomenon limited to the United States. From the BBC via Perry de Havilland, Samizdata:

A supermarket chain has withdrawn bags of nuts – after failing to declare they may contain peanuts.

The Food Standards Agency issued an allergy alert saying the presence of peanuts was not declared on Booths’ own brand packets of monkey nuts.

“Monkey nuts” is the local name for peanuts sold in the shell, which to most of us are even more immediately identifiable as peanuts than those sold without. The Express rounds up a couple of reactions from Britons on the street:

Pensioner Peter Davy, 73, of Preston, fumed: “It says monkey nuts on the packet. What do they think is in it? Cheese?” Jenny Harpin, 56, said: “If I bought a bag of monkey nuts I wouldn’t be too surprised to find they contained nuts.”

The government agency inevitably took a different view: “Without the correct information on the packaging, people with an allergy to peanuts who might not know or make the connection between peanuts and monkey nuts, for example children, might eat the product and experience an adverse reaction.” More: Lowering the Bar.

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{ 10 comments }

1 John Burgess 04.28.13 at 12:41 pm

I’m utterly convinced that children read all the warning labels on everything they put into their mouths.

When the children reach the age of 20, perhaps.

2 great unknown 04.28.13 at 1:44 pm

In general, and not just on this topic, the first four words of this headline would have been sufficient and accurate.

3 Richard Nieporent 04.28.13 at 3:01 pm

Clearly there a need for the warming label “contains nuts” on the Food Standards Agency website.

4 Jason Wong 04.28.13 at 6:53 pm

I keep reading about these things, and you’re forgetting one important thing: peanuts aren’t nuts.

Peanuts are in the legume family, which includes beans.

While many people are allergic to peanuts, and many people are allergic to nuts, these allergies don’t always occur together. A good friend of mine has a dangerous nut allergy (he carries an EpiPen), but he can eat peanuts without problems.

However, machinery that it is used to process nuts is sometimes used to process peanuts, or vice-versa, so labeling is important.

5 Joseph 04.28.13 at 10:48 pm

That’s a “nutty” story!

6 mojo 04.29.13 at 11:45 am

“A bag of simian gonads? Who’d buy that?”

7 spodula 04.29.13 at 3:40 pm

You know, over this side of the pond, we do enjoy the odd giggle at our US brethren. Its sort of refreshing that sometimes we can be desperately clever ourselves from time to time.

8 lbel 04.30.13 at 8:08 am

“I keep reading about these things, and you’re forgetting one important thing: peanuts aren’t nuts…machinery that it is used to process nuts is sometimes used to process peanuts, or vice-versa, so labeling is important.”

I agree. Being allergic to peanuts, but not nuts, I eat all kinds of nuts all the time. I could easily see a kid with the same allergy situation as me seeing “monkey nuts” and not questioning it. That is, oh this is another kind of nut like walnuts or pecans. If I had known as a kid that I could eat nuts, I could easily see myself doing this. That said, my mom quite reasonably worried when I was a kid that the allergy test could have shown a false negative (this does happen) for nuts, so I avoided any kind of nut and it wasn’t until my adult life that I decided for myself to try cashews (with epi-pen nearby just in case). So I guess if I ever encountered monkey nuts as a kid, my mom saved me from this situation.

9 D 04.30.13 at 7:15 pm

lbel, are you not from the UK? It’s an exceedingly common phrase.

10 Tom Oakley 05.01.13 at 12:24 pm

It didn’t say anywhere on the packet that ‘monkey nuts’ are in fact peanuts. Yes, most people know that monkey nuts is what you call peanuts with the shells on but the point of the law is to protect people who don’t know due to ignorance or stupidity.

Peanuts in the american south used to be called ‘goober peas’. If people were selling ‘goober peas’ nowadays I’d also expect the packet to warn people that they’re eating peanuts. It’s reasonable to expect companies selling peanuts to have them properly labelled, instead of expecting people with allergies to learn every colloquial term.

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