Labels truly can be a life, death and health influence: From allergies to aspartame, does packaging disclose enough?

Author:Lusky, Mark
Position:CUSTOMER Service

The headline in sums it up: "Mother of teen with nut allergy who died after eating Chips Ahoy! calls for packaging changes."

Notes the ensuing article, "The mother of 15-year-old Alexi Ryann Stafford, of Weston, FL, says her daughter died of anaphylactic shock last month after unknowingly consuming a Chips Ahoy! cookie containing peanut butter...Now her mother is calling for more distinct packaging for snacks that contain allergens...her mother says she confused the similar red packaging between Chips Ahoy!'s Chewy and Reese's flavors. Her mother also says the wrapper with the word 'Reese's' on it was folded back, so her daughter didn't see it."

Should the packaging have disclosed more so that there would be no way to miss the peanut reference, or did the manufacturer use adequate care? This issue will, no doubt, be debated for some time among legal and consumer protection experts. Regardless of how this plays out, one thing is sure This tragedy should be a wakeup call for all manufacturers to review their current labeling/packaging and address strategies for the future. How much is enough, and what can be done to ensure that consumers get the full story, loud and clear?

In another instance, labeling verbiage--or lack thereof--raises suspicions about sneakiness, and consequent health issues. For several years, I have allowed myself occasionally to drink Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi because they had removed aspartame. Initially, I checked the labels to make sure the controversial stuff wasn't in there.

Recently, I decided to check the ingredients on the packaging holding a 12-pack of cans in my cart. There weren't any--only some vague reference to "classic sweetener blend." Now very suspicious at the lack of disclosure, I perused a bottle of it on the shelf above only to see aspartame listed front and center.

I threw the 12-pack back on the shelf, then started wondering: How long have I been unwittingly consuming aspartame? The February 2018 issue of AdAge provided some answers, noting, "PepsiCo--which faced a consumer backlash after it pulled aspartame from Diet Pepsi in 2015--is making a full reversal and will once again use the controversial sweetner [sic] in the soda's mainstream variety."

Then there's the story of the poorly-labeled contact lens cleaning and disinfecting solution containing 3% peroxide--something that definitely should not be used without a special cleaning system. I almost bought it, but noticed at the last...

To continue reading