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Can you trust allergen labelling?

If you're used to scanning ingredients lists then you'll know how much easier it's become since allergens have had to be highlighted.

Scanning product labels for gluten
Scanning product labels isn't my idea of fun

I mean, labelling's got a lot better, hasn't it?

I'm so glad I can trust the information on food packets (it wasn't always like this).

That is, until I came across this tub of icecream:

Is this icecream gluten-free?

As usual, before buying, I always check the ingredients. Here they are with the allergen information accordingly put in bold:

The icecream has labelled the allergens...or has it?

I read everything carefully and there was no gluten. I looked at the dreaded "may contain": only eggs, nuts & soya*. This means it should be suitable for coeliacs.

Shouldn't it?

But then my eye caught another area of the icecream tub:

The "may contain" ingredients in Romanian are clearly different

What was that? Did it mention gluten? I looked again:

Product may contain gluten

And there it was: gluten. I must say I was rather thankful the Romanian word for gluten is written the same way or I might not have realised.

So I immediately tweeted Lidl with the all important question: which set of ingredients is correct?

The answer came swiftly and with the utmost respect. Lidl looked into the problem immediately and were swift to find out the answer. Reassuringly, the product was entirely gluten-free. It was their translation into Romanian that had fallen short.


How you can approach allergen labelling (and stay calm)

If you're worried, I have the following advice:

  1. Always read all the ingredients as well as the highlighted allergens (just in case they've made an error).

  2. If you're in any doubt, don't buy the product.

  3. Take a photo of the ingredients list if it's confusing and contact the supplier to check whether the product is suitable for your diet.

Until I had my answer about the icecream, I'm very glad I didn't buy it and suffer because of their mistake. After all, no-one wants to be the victim of a product recall.

* By the way, you may have noticed they've already made an error in the "may contain" because they've not highlighted the allergens in bold. However, they have managed this in the Romanian section. At all times, products need to be consistent in both their ingredients and the way they're presented.

Are you confused about product labelling? Please share your questions below!


Hi! Great to have you here...

My name's Ali and I help people on gluten-free diets have a better, easier and healthier lifestyle. 

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