May Contain - To Use or Not?

Robin Sherlock, Steven L. Taylor, Sylvia Pfaff, Kirsten Grinter, René W.R. Crevel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Precautionary (advisory, 'may contain') labeling is a somewhat unique feature associated with food allergens. Its roots lie in the uncertainties around the risks posed by allergens and the limited means of managing them effectively that existed around the time when they were first recognized as a food safety issue. This chapter details the history and origins of precautionary labeling from a measure initially welcomed by the food allergic community to one that is now widely derided, lacking in credibility and seen as limiting food choices. It briefly considers the proposition that precautionary labeling exists in a regulatory 'no man's land' and considers the various ways in which it has been used by industry. Finally it discusses why precautionary labeling is likely to continue to be needed and used, and how its value can be restored, citing the Australian Allergen Bureau's Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labeling (VITAL) initiative and its adoption of quantitative standards for allergen management in the application of precautionary labeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRisk Management for Food Allergy
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9780123819888
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • 'may contain'
  • Allergen management
  • Allergens
  • Food regulation
  • Precautionary labeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine


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