I’m constantly intrigued, and frequently baffled, by disclaimers on food packaging, warning that they “may contain” unexpected ingredients (let’s just skate over the fact that what they really mean is “might contain” – I know may and might are frequently treated as interchangeable, but they are not, as any dictionary will demonstrate).
For example, many foods which might reasonably be expected never to have come within miles of a nut, often warn “may contain nuts”.** By what weird alchemy this can happen is never explained. But when it says “May contain nuts/produced in a factory where nuts are processed” my immediate thought is that they need to brush up on their hygiene, and on their brushing up too, for that matter.
**And yes I do know that’s because people might be fatally allergic – my point is what the hell are the nuts doing in there in the first place?
However, I have two examples in front of me which are simply bizarre. A tub of McLelland Seriously Strong Spreadable (which, incidentally, is worryingly close to DiaryLea in texture, and dries to cement on the knife while you’re eating it), bears the words “May contain lysozyme derived from egg”. I haven’t the faintest idea what that is – and am probably better off not knowing – but I can’t help thinking that if the buggerdly stuff is in there, it’s because it was deliberately added. And by the way, that cheese comes in a tub with such a huge indent in the bottom that it must surely be deliberately designed to visually deceive.
And on a carton of Cadbury’s Bournville Cocoa – Made from 100% Cocoa Beans, it says “May contain milk”. Really? How? If it’s 100% cocoa beans, how can it possibly contain anything else?
It’s not as if there are milk beans which might accidentally get into the cocoa beans. If milk did get in there, and I presume they mean milk solids, then (a) some bugger put it there, and (b) if they did, the 100% Cocoa Beans claim is a lie. You can’t have it both ways, guys.
So, next time you’re putting your shopping away, take a look at just how much extraneous crap finds its way into your food under cover of the “May contain…” cop-out, and ask yourself, if producers are really rigorous in their quality control and cleaning, just how the hell they could have got there without the intervention of some human agency.