Nestle Cheerios: may contain “nut traces”, “milk traces” or both?

Nestle Cheerios. You can buy them in big boxes, little boxes as part of a variety pack and in 25g “Grab2Go” bags. The ingredients for all three are identical.

The big boxes state “may contain nut traces”. The outer wrapper for the variety packs states “cartons may contain nut traces”. However, the “Grab2Go” bags state “may contain milk traces”. Neither the outer plastic wrapper nor the individual Grab2Go bags carry a nut warning.

Turning to the Nestle website, the information for normal Cheerios reads (as at 27 May 2014):

Cheerios screen shot 27.5.14

Whereas the Grab2Go description makes no mention of “may contain traces of nut” OR “may contain traces of milk”:

Cheerios Grab 2 Go screen shot 27.5.14

Karen (who sounded the alarm about the difference on the Nutmums Facebook page) was advised by Nestle that “neither the large box of Cheerios, or the 5x25g Cheerios are not suitable for a nut free diet”.

Despite the absence of a warning on the packet, the product descriptions on both Ocado and Tesco state “may contain nut traces”. Yet neither supermarket description states “may contain milk traces”.

Nestle produce “avoidance lists”, showing which of their products are safe for certain diets. As at 27 May 2014, Cheerios are not on the list of Foods Suitable for a Nut Avoidance Diet. However, “Cheerios: Original Cheerios, Honey, Chocolatey, Oat ” ARE on the list of Foods Suitable for a Milk Avoidance Diet.

Confused? Me too.

I’ve emailed Nestle to ask:

  • Do you use “may contain nut traces” warnings, wherever products are not suitable for a nut avoidance diet?
  • If the 25g Grab2Go packs of Cheerios are not suitable for a nut avoidance diet, why is there no “may contain nut traces” warning on pack?
  • Why do the Grab2Go packs have a “may contain milk traces” warning, when the cereal boxes do not?

Whilst I know may contains are completely voluntary, I do tend to feel more confident if a packet says only “may contain egg” (for example). My thinking is that a food company wouldn’t hesitate to add “and nuts”, if there was a known cross contamination risk. If the Grab2Go packs are at risk of cross contamination from nuts, yet only a “may contain milk traces” warning has been used, this raises the question again of whether manufacturers are able to pick and choose their may contains.

Cheerios Grab 2 Go packCheerios Grab 2 Go label
(Thanks to Karen for the Grab2Go pack photos).

Update (3 June 2014): Nestle confirm Grab2Go bags are nut safe

Good news: nut allergic children can still enjoy Cheerios from the Grab2Go packs! In response to my enquiries, Nestle confirmed that:

“Grab2Go bags are suitable for nut allergy suffers. If there is an allergen risk, we always declare it. If there is no declaration and no allergen listed in the ingredients, then the product is suitable.”

As regards there being a milk traces warning on the Grab2Go packs, but not the boxes, they advised:

“the information printed on the Cheerios Grab2Go bags is correct. The product contains traces of milk … The Grab2Go bags are made in a different location to Original Cheerios in the box and therefore the allergen status is different for this product.

Where nuts or peanuts are used in one of our products this will be declared on the label as an ingredient in the ingredients listing. If the product does not contain nuts or peanuts but has been manufactured in an area where it may have come into contact with nuts or peanuts or nut-containing products, a trace warning statement will be present at the end of the ingredients list.”

I’ve asked whether they plan to add Cheerios Grab2Go bags to their nut safe list too.

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