Those "may contain:" statements on food labels may soon have some meaning behind them- at least in the U.K. The Food Standards Agency is seeking to define thresholds for major allergens which would in turn allow food manufacturers and consumers to speak in a consistent language.
This would clearly be a welcome and important piece of information. In our house, we find little consistency in those "may contain" statements and find we sometimes avoid those foods, and other times we don't. This is usually after careful research, including a phone call to the manufacturer and weighing the reputation of that manufacturer and the perceived severity of the allergy. Not an exact science by any means and these types of statements certainly raise the stress level within our family.
I'm all for consistency and would welcome specific definitions for food labels. We're still years away, though, as the task force is expected to report back in mid-2012, and then the food industry will weigh in on how, or if, they can live with the recommended definitions.
It's a start. The full article is available at Food Manufacture.