We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

You would have to be nuts…

When I read this

A supermarket chain has withdrawn bags of nuts – after failing to declare they may contain peanuts. The Food Standards Agency issued an allergy alert saying the presence of peanuts was not declared on Booths’ own brand packets of monkey nuts. […] Booths technical manager Waheed Hassan said: “It is our responsibility as retailers to accurately record allergy advice. […] In a statement, the supermarket said it had identified the labelling error and issued a warning to customers.

“If you have an allergy to peanuts, please do not consume this product and return it to your local store for a full refund. No other products are affected by this issue and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

So the packets of nuts labelled as… nuts… are being recalled for not telling people allergic to nuts not to eat the nuts.

I would have much preferred if Mr. Waheed Hassan had instead issued the following statement:

“If you are allergic to nuts, do not buy anything labelled as… nuts. And if you do, then either you are illiterate or cannot read English, in which case an additional label telling you not to eat the nuts that you are allergic to from this packet labelled as… nuts… would not help.

But then again, anyone suffering from a nut allergy eating from a packet labelled… nuts… and which, when you open them and see them prior to stuffing them into your gaping maw, look exactly like the… nuts… that you are allergic to, well, such a person is so stupid that we feel that we are providing a public service assisting with their choice to remove themselves from the gene pool. No need to thank us and remember to always shop at Booths! Kthxby.”

But sadly, he did not say that.

31 comments to You would have to be nuts…

  • Lord Galleywood

    I see that they also fail to mention that Monkeys are not part of the product.

  • Peanuts are actually legumes, not nuts.
    I believe cashews are legumes too.
    Anyway, I don’t like the government involvement, but I do like as much information as possible on the labels of the food I buy, and if it doesn’t have a label, then it should be what it appears to be. In the nut case, people can open up the damn package, see there are peanuts, and then they probably ought to be able to get their money back, but in many cases they’ll stick something that I don’t want into a perfectly good piece of chocolate or a roast or something. Seriously, how much of the product can be added crap before it stops being a legit transaction and starts being fraud? Some of the roasts I’ve bought recently tasted like water- because they are injecting a solution into them.

  • You’re wrong on this one. Peanuts are not nuts, and a person who has a serious peanut allergy may be able to eat nuts without concern, and vice-versa.

    A mistake in labelling that could kill a person is certainly an actionable error under any legal scheme… And to a person with an anaphylactic peanut allergy, this could do just that.

    From the US, where peanut allergies are quite common…

  • Vinegar Joe

    Nature really needs to cull the herd.

  • Tedd

    While I appreciate that warning label requirements have gone off the rails in some cases, it seems to me that there may be an important distinction between “nuts” and “peanuts.” If it were bags of peanuts that were being pulled for not being labeled “peanuts,” then Perry would be absolutely justified it pillorying it. But mixed nuts not being labeled as containing peanuts isn’t quite the same thing.

    I also think it’s important to note that the supermarket is making this choice voluntarily, presumably because they think it’s the right decision for their business. That’s what should happen. It may be unfortunate that sometimes the market dictates warning labels that insult the intelligence of a large swath of the population, but it’s an example of the market functioning properly, nevertheless.

  • No, I am firmly of the view that anyone buying mixed nuts who is allergic to peanuts is the author of their own misfortunes, Tedd. And I gather they were labelled as containing peanuts, they just lacked the warning label telling peanut allergy sufferers not to eat them.

    And I agree the supermarket probably had to do what it did, given the absurdities of the modern world… but then again, I suspect if they had indeed issued the statement that I suggested, more people would be (1) amused rather than insulted (2) the free advertising Booths would get would be global in scope and result in a net increase in their bottom line ;)

  • Steve D

    And then he should finish his statement by throwing his hands in the air and crying,

    “Ah nuts!”

  • roystgnr

    Google ngram viewer says the phrase monkey nuts is something like a century and a half old.

    Does anyone know if the phrase ever had any meaning other than as a synonym for cooked peanuts in their shells? It seems to have been decreasing in popularity since 1940, and this is the first time I’d heard it. Out of context I would have expected a slightly more literal and much less appetizing interpretation.

  • Toolkien

    The center issue is that once people are conditioned to the warning label mandated, they will rely on that shortcut. The nannies over think and Joe Blow doesn’t have to to a point of abandonment of common sense. Instead of the outlier being cautious in their behavior, the data field needs to expend energy pre-thinking every last possible mischance. It’s neurosis on a cultural, societal scale. And it’s economically wasteful.

  • jerry

    I’ll go with Perry on this one.

    The ‘retraction statement’ is to, hopefully, prevent another entrant and possible winner into the ‘lawsuit lottery’ game.
    ‘Gee, it didn’t say that I shouldn’t ……………’
    If I had an allergy to peanuts, I wouldn’t go near anything that came in a shell, including shellfish !

    Somewhere I have an OLD newspaper clipping about testing the safety of book matches so that appropriate warnings could be printed on them – things like – ‘you can burn yourself with these’ !!!
    At the end, it was summed up beautifully with ‘These people have got to stop thinking they can turn a world as complex as ours into a giant padded cell where even an idiot cannot hurt himself’.

    This is just another case of that approach.
    For an interesting education, look at the warnings on ladders to get an idea of the absurd lengths to which ‘warning labels’ can be carried.

  • Paul Marks

    I common language (although not in scientic language) peanuts are considered “nuts”.

    If someone eats stuff out of bag marked “nuts” and then has an allergic reaction and goes to court saying “it did not say peanuts” they deserve to be told to go and jump in the nearest lake.

    As for the government – it is (or should be) none of their business.

  • RRS

    Aflatoxin.

    I quit eatin’ “Biled” peanuts, but I’m careful with all the rest.

    Laird??

  • Does anyone know if the phrase ever had any meaning other than as a synonym for cooked peanuts in their shells?

    That is the only way I have ever heard the term used, roystgnr.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Anyone know why “Ginger nuts” are so called? For readers outside the UK, ginger “nuts” are ginger flavoured biscuits / cookies, and they aren’t nuts and they don’t contain nuts.

    The packet of rather oddly-named “Heritage” ginger nuts I bought yesterday does not specifically say anywhere that it does not contain nuts, so the makers can expect a lawsuit any day now. However it does say that it was made in a factory that sometimes processes nuts and sesame seeds.

    The world is going… I’m not going to say it.

    While on the subject, I was adult before I finally worked out that the famously untranslatable reply by General McAuliffe to the German demand that he surrender at Bastogne had another meaning besides “your proposal is crazy”.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    On a tangentally related note, I’ve heard it speculated that our paranoia regarding nut allergies is at least partly responsible for the very high rate of their occurrence in the UK.

    In Israel they put nuts in everything, including babyfood, and have virtually no serious allergies at all.

    Of course this may be partly genetic since Israelis for the most part are a different racial group to Brits, but still….

  • And I gather they were labelled as containing peanuts, they just lacked the warning label telling peanut allergy sufferers not to eat them.

    No:

    A supermarket chain has withdrawn bags of nuts – after failing to declare they may contain peanuts.

    The Food Standards Agency issued an allergy alert saying the presence of peanuts was not declared on Booths’ own brand packets of monkey nuts.

    (Emphasis mine)

    No, I am firmly of the view that anyone buying mixed nuts who is allergic to peanuts is the author of their own misfortunes, Tedd.

    I am also of this view, Perry, but not as firmly as you are. If the product is packaged in a transparent material, I’d tend more towards your POV. But even then, a person with poor vision may have trouble telling the regular nuts from peanuts etc.

    None of the above is to say that any of this should be any business of the state. Other than that, I’m mostly with Tedd on this.

  • JV: you may be on to something. I don’t know about baby food (and if any is actually produced in Israel, rather than imported), but there’s virtually no native-born Israeli who has not grown up on Bamba as a snack.

  • …oops, my emphasis there is invisible in the non-mobile version…oh well.

  • Stonyground

    One of my favorite warning labels is the one one the egg boxes that says “Allergy advice, contains egg.”

  • Alisa… Monkey Nuts *means* peanuts in England. It is a synonym. I do not think I ever heard my granny call them anything other than ‘Monkey Nuts’ (and she was Australian).

    Indeed I was over generous saying they were ‘mixed nuts’ in a comment. If they were labelled as Monkey Nuts, they were not mixed nuts, they were…peanuts. And a person with vision so poor they cannot tell peanuts from other nuts probably cannot read the label either.

  • Now I get it – thanks!:-)

  • DavidC

    Every creature has within him the wild, uncontrollable urge to punt

  • Ernie G

    Whenever I see a notice like this, or a warning not to iron clothes while they are being worn, I am reminded that some mother, somewhere, sent her son (or daughter) to law school.

  • veryretired

    This legal talk is all well and good but what are the animal rights people doing to protect all those nutless monkeys?

  • […] I’ve had fun before at the expense of warnings like “Contains Nuts” on a container of nuts. It’s not a phenomenon limited to the United States. From the BBC via Perry de Havilland, Samizdata: […]

  • Fred Z

    I’m with Joe – no package warnings at all, let’s see some evolution in action here, the gene pool needs scrubbing, it’s crusted with allergies.

  • Julie near Chicago

    I think Very has raised a most important point. My own thought is that they themselves probably took the monkeys’ nuts, and are hiding behind a Bong-tree eating them. Tsk.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    When I first read this, a voice at the back of my mind said, “Albatross! Dead Albatross for sale!” Anyone else remember that Monty Python sketch? About the truthful vendor at some sports function, whom the Police arrest anyway?

  • Jason

    Beware the Jubjub Bird and shun the frumious Bandersnatch

  • Laird

    RRS, if you were asking my opinion on “biled” peanuts, I despise them. Nasty, slimy things. I’ll take mine dry roasted, thank you.

  • veryretired

    Thank you Julie. Just like other terrible animal cruelty cases, these poor monkeys are being maimed for the sake of snack food.

    Reminds me of the horrible thought of all those legless frogs leaving the back doors of French restaurants in their little wheel chairs.

    I’m sorry. I’m too overcome to continue…and yet, strangely peckish.