Friday, July 08, 2005

Huh? Wha? Part II

On May 9th I posted this about something I thought was "intuitively obvious to the most casual observer." In that same vein I offer this warning from a bag of dry roasted peanuts from Southwest Airlines:
Produced in a facility that processes peanuts and other nuts.


Anonymous said...

whilst I agree that you get some bizarre corner cases arising from the requirement to label foodstuffs about production facilities and content, I don't actually think this is one of them:

1) specific food allergies are a serious problem. For someone who is nut or peanut intolerant, ingestion of even trace quantities of the offending foodstuff can actually be fatal.
2) The label says "peanuts and other nuts". This is significant. From an allergy perspective, IIRC nuts and peanuts are distinct. An individual who is peanut allergic is not necessarily nut allergic and vice-versa. Hence labelling for possible contamination of both is actually important. It isn't necessarily obvious that a peanut product is at risk of nut contamination and vice-versa.
3) On the whole, I'll take the occasional bizarro labelling episode as a trade for making universal labeling regulations simple. Sure, you get some strange cases (I've seen a bag of pistachios in the UK with the warning "this product may contain nuts"), but so what? The alternatives to accepting this sort of occasional wierdness is either to not label, or to define a whole bunch of exceptions to the labeling regulations to exempt "obvious cases" which would then need some strict legal definition. These alternatives either a) expose people with serious allergies to uneccessary risk or b) needlessly enrich some lawyers respectively. Personally, I'll take the simple route that results in strange corner cases.

Of course, it's still funny :-). My favorite remains a warning label reportedly attached to the cape of a child's superman costume which read "WARNING: use of this device does not enable the wearer to fly"


Darren said...

Lawyers already got enriched, which is why we have that silly labeling. And they'll still get rich, perhaps because the words weren't written large enough for the customer to see, or some such rubbish.

Didn't know that peanuts weren't nuts, though. I'll take your word for it! Is that like "starfish aren't fish"?

Anonymous said...

something like that :-)

Peanuts are not the same as nuts (otherwise known as "tree nuts"); they are "legumes". Similar to lentils, IIRC. I'll see if I can dig upa reference