Ask Nestle: Allergens & Identifying Ingredients of Concern On-Pack
At Nestlé Canada, we understand that many of our consumers have special dietary needs and rely on our packaging to identify ingredients they may need to avoid. Clear and transparent labelling of ingredients related to food allergies and intolerances is extremely important to us. We often get questions about what these ingredients are or how to know when they are not included in our products, so we have provided answers to frequently-asked questions around dietary allergens, intolerances, and avoidances.
1. What are allergies?
A food allergy is a medical condition in which your immune system mistakenly treats something that you eat or drink as if it’s dangerous to you. Your body reacts negatively to the food by having an allergic reaction which can be potentially life-threatening.
2. How do allergies differ from intolerances, sensitivities, or avoidances?
Some of the symptoms of food allergy and food intolerance are similar, but the differences between the two are very important. Food allergies involve the immune system and food intolerances involve the digestive system. A food intolerance is the inability to digest or absorb certain foods. Unlike a food intolerance, a food allergy can cause a serious or even life-threatening reaction by eating a very small amount, or by touching or inhaling the food.
Additionally, some people may choose to avoid certain foods or ingredients according to their religious or ethical beliefs.
3. How can I be sure a product does not contain an ingredient that I am allergic/intolerant to?
At Nestlé Canada, we take the health and safety of our consumers as our #1 priority. We do everything possible to ensure that any allergens that come into contact with our products are labeled appropriately in the ingredients statement. This means that you can be sure our products do not contain any undeclared allergens, and when a product is labeled as “free-from” an ingredient, we have followed very strict rules and regulations to ensure there is no chance of that ingredient being in the product. If you are required to avoid certain ingredients, we recommend that you always read the list of ingredients on the packaging as it has the most up-to-date information.
4. What does “may contain” mean?
When you see a ‘may contain’ statement on a food or beverage label, this is a notice of potential cross-contamination that alerts you of the possible presence of an allergen in the product. Cross-contamination statements may be declared on food labels when – despite all reasonable measures to prevent contact with allergens – there is a chance for the unintended presence of food allergens in the food.
5. What are the ingredient claims that Nestlé makes on products because of allergies, intolerances, or avoidances?
Canada has 11 priority allergens that must be labeled on all packaging. If the product contains any of the following, or if there is a chance for cross-contamination, you can find it in the ingredients or ‘may contain’ statement on the label.
- Tree nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashew nuts, hazel nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio, walnuts)
- Crustaceans, shellfish
6. What if I have more questions on the ingredients in a specific Nestlé product?
If you require further assistance, please call Nestlé Consumer Services toll-free at 1-800-387-4636 Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.