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Allergy Today: Undeclared peanut in imported pesto products containing cashews

There have been a number of recalls of pesto products in New Zealand and Australia due to the presence of an undeclared allergen (peanuts).

Recalls of affected products in New Zealand can be found on the Ministry for Primary Industries website at: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/food-recalls/recalled-food-products/artur-rutkowski-2lEoPVy3oJ0-unsplash-272-147

During December 2019 and January 2020, pesto products manufactured in Italy were recalled across Europe and the UK due to the presence of undeclared peanut. Investigations have indicated the peanut is coming from cashew meal, cashew flour and cashew pieces and at this stage it is thought these ingredients originate from Vietnam.

Australian and New Zealand recalls were instigated after proactive testing was carried out following the recalls in Europe and UK. The Allergen Bureau reports the food industry is acting quickly and collaboratively with consumer groups, analytical laboratories, retailers and regulators to further investigate and control the issue.

To date there are no known reports of allergic reactions associated with the recalled pesto products in New Zealand.

The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries is working with food safety agencies around the world via the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) to monitor developments. Investigations are ongoing to confirm that this issue has been contained.

Allergy New Zealand has also been monitoring the situation with MPI and through teleconferences convened by the Food Safety and Response Section of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).

Consumers with a peanut allergy are advised to be cautious when purchasing products containing cashew nuts. Consumers with allergies should always read ingredient information on labels and always avoid products with a precautionary allergen statement such as 'may contain' or 'may be present' in relation to peanuts in food products containing cashews.

Allergy New Zealand advises If you are allergic to peanuts and you have an allergic reaction to a product containing cashew, follow your Anaphylaxis Action Plan and as soon as you are able, report this to MPI Food Safety on 0800 00 83 33, or by email: info@mpi.govt.nz.