Company pays more than peanuts for false labelling fine

Posted by Josette Dunn on 30th April 2010

The importer and distributor of a Chinese gingili (sesame) paste that contained undeclared peanuts have been fined $2,640 and $6,600 respectively after it was found they had falsely labelled the food, Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan said today.Minister Whan said the false labels had been brought to the attention of the NSW Food Authority after a South Australian man was treated for anaphylaxis after unknowingly consuming peanuts contained in the product.

“Fortunately this particular situation did not have a tragic outcome but the danger of peanut allergy to sufferers cannot be underestimated,” Minister Whan said.

“A person with a severe peanut allergy who comes into contact with peanuts can go into immediate anaphylactic shock which can result in death.

“Such devastating consequences mean the importance of correct labelling and packaging of food is paramount.”

Minister Whan said in one batch of the product a Chinese label affixed to the product correctly listed the ingredients, including peanuts. In this case the Chinese language label had been plastered over with an English label that made no declaration of the peanut content.

A different batch of the same product was also described as being ‘100 per cent sesame’ in the English label alongside the Chinese script that made reference to the peanut content.

“The NSW Food Authority was informed of the incident by South Australian authorities after it was determined the importer of the product was based in NSW,” Minister Whan said.

“NSW Food Authority Officers immediately acted to recall the product from shelves after it was found the company did not have a food recall plan in place as required under the Food Standards Code.”

Importer Manifold Food Trading and distributer company Ming Fa Trading were both fined under the NSW Food Act for offences including failure to comply with the Food Standards Code and selling food where the packaging or labelling falsely described the food.

Peanut allergy is among the top eight food allergies that account for around 90 per cent of all allergic reactions to food.

The law requires that the main eight food allergens must be declared on the food label, for example “contains nuts or peanuts”.