Target Recalls Easter Chocolate Over Allergen Labelling

  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • March 23, 2015 at 10:12 AM

Target Australia has had to recall a range of Easter chocolates after realising the labels did not warn customers about the potential presence of tree nuts and peanuts.

While Australian food regulations require labels include a warning that products “may contain tree nuts and peanuts”, these ones state that they “may contain shell fruit” instead.

The range of chocolates being recalled include Target brand milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate bunnies, the Target brand milk chocolate duck and Klett milk chocolate sitting bunnies and Easter mix chocolate cones.

 Target recall products

All of the products have a Best Before date of 30.06.2016 and have been available for sale at Target and Target Country stores across Australia this Easter season.

“Any consumers who have a tree nut or peanut allergy or intolerance may have a reaction if these products are consumed,” Target says.

“Consumers who have a tree nut or peanut allergy or intolerance should not consume these products and should return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

What is “shell fruit”?

So how do you get “shell fruit” instead of “tree nuts and peanuts” on a label? In this case, it comes down to language and food regulation differences.

All of the recalled chocolates were made in Germany. As a spokesperson for Target explains on the Good Food website, the labels on them were “an attempted translation that didn’t quite hit the mark”.

That kind of thing happens all the time, as anyone who’s ever used an online translator can probably attest. But we thought this was a good opportunity to take a closer look at exactly what caused the confusion.

It turns out that in German the common word for edible nuts is “schalenfrüchte”. This is a compound word that’s made up of schalen (shell/shells) and frücht (fruit).

While the compound word itself translates straight into “nuts”, if you translated schalenfrüchte based on the individual words schalen and frücht, you could indeed come up with “shell fruit”.

Added to this confusion is the actual classification of nuts, which varies from region to region. True nuts are actually classified as “fruit with hard shells”, and include pecans, sweet chestnuts and hazelnuts, while peanuts, almonds and cashews (among others) are technically not nuts.

That’s why in Australia the food regulations require a label that says, “may contain tree nuts and peanuts”, to differentiate between the different types of ingredients that all get lumped under the generalised “nuts” label.

In contrast, it is acceptable in Germany and other parts of the world to have a label that simply states the product “may contain nuts”. So even if you had a product that didn’t need a label transaction, you could come up against food regulation issues in Australia.

While all of this information might seem like fodder for your next trivia night (or awkward conversation), it could also be handy to file away for future reference. After all, nut and peanut allergies are fairly common, and if you end up picking up food while you travel, knowing how allergen statements differ and what to look for could help you stick to the right packaged products.

Images: Target store, source: Stan Zemanek/Wikimedia Commons; screenshot from the Target recall, source: supplied; screenshot from the Target Easter 2015 catalogue, source: supplied

Target easter catalogue

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