Supermarkets are failing to warn customers about potentially lethal allergens in bakery products, investigators have found.
More than a quarter of branches in the exposé did not give satisfactory information to undercover reporters from BBC1’s Watchdog Live programme when they posed as customers with food allergies.
In one Asda store, staff said selected bakery products didn’t contain sesame when it was listed as an ingredient on the website and at other branches.
Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda staff gave incorrect and confusing information about goods containing nuts, milk, sesame seeds and other common allergens
Natasha (pictured) died after eating an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette from a Pret A Manger at Heathrow Terminal 5
The claims emerged after the inquest into Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, who died from an allergic reaction to sesame seeds in the dough of a Pret A Manger baguette, which had no warning on its wrapper.
In September, a coroner criticised Pret’s labelling, warning: ‘Future deaths could occur.’
Watchdog Live host Steph McGovern said yesterday: ‘Given how dangerous it is for someone to consume something they are allergic to, you would think companies would print labels which have the allergy information on. We are talking about life or death.’ In its investigation, three Asda stores visited by the Watchdog Live team did not give correct information about allergens.
Although staff gave general warnings that products may be contaminated with nuts or seeds, they could not identify specific major allergens contained within the recipe.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse parents were shown the footage by the BBC
More than a quarter of branches in the exposé did not give satisfactory information to undercover reporters from BBC1’s Watchdog Live programme when they posed as customers with food allergies
Watchdog Live host Steph McGovern (pictured) said yesterday that you would think companies would print labels which have the allergy information on
A senior staff member at a Tesco store (pictured stock image) could not find ingredient information for an unpackaged panini containing milk when a journalist posed as someone with a milk allergy
Footage shows how a Sainsbury’s worker reassured an undercover reporter that raisin whirls, which contain almonds, ‘haven’t got nuts in’.
When asked by the reporter a second time, the worker said he would check the product information guide, adding: ‘I know it hasn’t got anything in it, but I can show you in case you’re a bit unsure.’
The programme also discovered that Sainsbury’s product guides, which are meant to provide safe, consistent information for staff and customers, contained conflicting information about the presence of almonds in the same raisin whirls in two neighbouring stores.
A senior staff member at a Tesco store could not find ingredient information for an unpackaged panini containing milk when a journalist posed as someone with a milk allergy. The programme secretly filmed staff at 24 supermarket branches, five of which gave alarming advice about allergens.
It focused on bakeries at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons. It found no cause for concern at branches of Morrisons.
Sainsbury’s (pictured stock image) was found to have not listed any of the 14 major allergens on packaging or shelf labels on any in-store bakery products
Sainsbury’s did not list any of the 14 major allergens on packaging or shelf labels on any in-store bakery products, but did advise asking a member of staff.
Asda’s in-store bakery packaging and shelf labels did not list specific allergen ingredients, but carried general advice that products may contain allergens.
Tesco listed major allergens on most in-store bakery products, but not loose bread rolls, paninis and pastries in some stores.
Sainsbury’s said: ‘Customer safety is our priority. We are updating labels to include more specific allergen information.’
Tesco said: ‘We exceed legal requirements by providing allergen information on all products packed in store by our bakers. For loose bakery items, we display signs asking customers to speak to colleagues.’
Asda said: ‘Our bakeries feature clear signage on the potential for allergens and our bakery products are labelled to warn of the potential presence of nuts, seeds and other allergens.’
The full report can be seen on Watchdog Live tonight.