How Often Are Products Recalled Due to Undeclared Allergens? More Often Than You Think


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is one of the federal agencies charged with keeping the US food supply safe. One way they do so is by acting as a clearing house for product recalls.

Recalls are generally initiated by the manufacturer or distributor of the food. Only in some cases does the FDA mandate a recall.

Recalls may be due to any number of reasons, including contamination with microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites; the presence of foreign objects like metal or plastic; or a failure to list a major allergen contained in the food.

For the food allergy community, undeclared allergens can be deadly, as was illustrated by the recent death of Órla Baxendale — a 25-year-old dancer with a severe peanut allergy — due to undeclared peanuts in a cookie purchased at Stew Leonard’s.

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Current regulations require manufacturers to label foods containing any of the Top 9 allergens — peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, crustacean shellfish, and sesame — as well as sulfates, providing the sulfate concentration is higher than 10 parts-per-million.

Manufacturers that process allergens in their facilities are the most likely to recall products due to undeclared allergens, often due to mislabeling or cross-contact. Cross-contact occurs when an allergen is inadvertently introduced into a product due to incomplete sanitation of the equipment between runs, a mixup of ingredients in the warehouse, or any number of other procedural breakdowns.

Precautionary allergen labeling (PAL) like “May contain milk” or “Manufactured in a facility that also processes tree nuts” can provide a clue that there is the potential for allergen cross-contact, but contrary to popular belief, such warnings are not mandated nor recognized by the FDA. As they are entirely voluntary, some manufacturers include them, many major brands don’t, and others will warn for one allergen and not another.

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To gain an understanding of the frequency of recalls due to undeclared allergens, we looked at the database of recalls maintained by the FDA and pulled only those that were issued to since the beginning of this year to date. Here’s what we found:

DateProductUndeclared Allergen
02/03/2024Wegmans — Harissa hummus topped with harissaSesame
02/01/2024Hearty Acquisitions Inc. — Tomato Basil with RiceSoy
01/30/2024Byrne Dairy — Mighty Fine Chocolate Ice creamPeanuts
01/29/2024Golden Owl — Dried mangoSulfites
01/26/2024UTZ — 2.75 oz. Wavy Original Potato ChipsMilk
01/20/2024Al Amir Fresh Foods — Hummus Dip & Tzatziki
Cucumber Yogurt
Sesame, Milk
01/19/2024Lian Sheng — Dried Tangerine PlumSulfites
01/19/2024Lian Sheng — Dried PlumSulfites
01/18/2024Hans Kissel — Mexican Style Quinoa SaladEgg, Soy
01/18/2024Whitley’s Peanut Factory — Deluxe Nut MixPeanuts, Milk,
Soy, Wheat,
and Sesame
01/17/2024Vandevi — Asafoetida Yellow PowderWheat
01/17/2024Big Island Candies — Brownie AssortmentPeanuts
01/10/2024Wegmans — Outrageous Oat CookiesWheat
01/09/2024Fat Choy Kee — Dried LonganSulfites
01/09/2024Benny T’s — Benny T’s Vesta Dry Hot SaucesWheat
01/09/2024Publix Deli — Publix Deli Carolina-Style Mustard
BBQ Sauce
01/05/2024ToYou — Snack Bars in a variety of flavorsSoy
01/04/2024Tasty Snacks — Dried PlumsSulfites

In the space of 34 days, 18 products were recalled, averaging one every other day. Those recalls were due to undeclared peanuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, sesame (7 of the Top 9), and sulfates.

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In many of those cases, consumers with food allergies would have been warned of the potential for allergen cross-contact if PAL warnings were mandated on the packaging.

The food allergy community desperately needs labeling regulations to be updated so that consumers are informed how products are manufactured with regard to allergens. To that end, please consider signing our petition on and sharing it with friends, family, and co-workers.

These Four Changes Would Make Food Labeling MUCH Safer for the Allergic Community
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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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