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FDA Scolds Bimbo Bakeries USA for Allergen Labels on Products Not Containing Those Ingredients

June 26, 2024
Agency demonstrates it will not tolerate inclusion of allergens on labels on products that do not contain them as a way to work around shoring up GMPs and cross-contamination prevention efforts.

Allergen labeling exists to protect customers, but the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has sternly warned food processors to not try and game the system, misleading consumers who rely on the warning labels to select their foods.

FDA sent Bimbo Bakeries USA Inc. a warning letter, noting that certain Sara Lee and Brownberry products coming from the company’s Topeka, Kan., and Phoenix, Ariz., bakeries were mislabeled — stating that they contained such allergens as sesame seeds, walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts, even though none of those ingredients were actually found in the product formulations. Sesame was added to the FDA’s list of major food allergens at the start of 2023.

The warning letter then warns all processors that skirting the rules to avoid actual compliance with them would not be tolerated, saying it expects manufacturers to follow the letter of the law when it comes to allergens.

“Labeling is not a substitute for adherence to good manufacturing practices or implementation of preventive controls,” FDA said in the warning letter to Bimbo Bakeries. “Instead, firms must comply with applicable requirements to address allergen cross-contact.”

Bimbo Bakeries has 15 days to correct the action, respond with steps for correction and a timeline, or to contest the findings of the inspections.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.

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