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UK yoghurt mislabelled as gluten-free but not recalled

By Shane Starling , 25-Aug-2011

Emmi-owned yoghurt brand Onken is altering packaging on some of its yoghurt products that were mislabelled as gluten-free in the UK.

Labels for Strawberry, Peach and Summer Berries Wholegrain Yogurts are being reprinted as the wholegrain content means they are not in fact gluten-free.

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued an alert about the problem yesterday due to the health implications of coeliacs consuming the product.

No recall

Emmi spokesperson Katie Thorne told FoodNavigator: "We have spoken with the FSA about this issue and they have advised that a product withdrawal is not necessary as there is an allergen warning on the pack that states 'contains gluten'."

"However, we will be over-stickering our packaging to cover up the incorrect icon until pots with new packaging will arrive in the supermarkets."

In a statement the company said: “We are aware of an issue on our Strawberry, Peach and Summer Berries Wholegrain Yogurts packaging. These products contain wholegrains such as barley, rye, oats and wheat and are therefore not gluten free.”

“This is clear from the ingredients list and allergen warning, however there is a gluten free icon on the packaging which is incorrect. We are printing new packaging and this will be in the supermarkets shortly.”

Swiss group Emmi gained control of the Onken brand from Dr Oetker in January this year.

At the time, Urs Riedener, Emmi CEO said: "Onken is the no. 1 in the UK and the no. 3 in Germany for large pots of yogurt. This strong brand will enable us to consolidate our market position in our key markets of the UK and Germany, and lay the foundations for further growth with exported Swiss products."

The brand sells about €65m per year, mostly in the UK and Germany.

According to Kantar Worldpanel the UK gluten-free market was worth more than €120m in 2010.

The gluten-free labeling issue has been highlighted on the Coeliac UK website, where information is gathered about eating habits for those who have issues with gluten foods.

The website states: Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac) is not an allergy or simple food intolerance. In fact it's an autoimmune disease, where the body's immune system attacks its own tissues.”

In people with coeliac disease this immune reaction is triggered by gluten, a collective name for a type of protein found in the cereals wheat, rye and barley. A few people are also sensitive to oats.”

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