Peanut in pesto products causes widespread recalls

Australian food producers whose products contain cashews are being urged to check their supply chain after the recall of several pesto products due to the presence of peanut. To-date, nine different pesto products have been recalled in Australia, with the source of the peanut being traced to the cashew ingredient. A cheesecake containing cashews has also been recalled due to undeclared peanut, indicating the issue affects a wider product range.

During December 2019 and January 2020, pesto products manufactured in Italy were recalled across Europe and the UK due to the presence of undeclared peanut. Investigations have indicated the peanut is coming from cashew meal, cashew flour and cashew pieces and at this stage it is thought these ingredients originate from Vietnam.

The Australian recalls were instigated after proactive testing was carried out as a result of the recent recalls in Europe and UK. The food industry is acting quickly and collaboratively with consumer groups, analytical laboratories, retailers and regulators to further investigate and control the issue.

There are no known reports of allergic reactions associated with the recalled pesto products in Australia. Consumers with peanut allergy are advised to avoid cashew-containing products at this stage and to heed all precautionary labelling advising of potential presence of peanut.

The Allergen Testing Special Interest Group (AT-SIG) has prepared advice for industry on this issue, offering guidance in relation to product sampling plans, analytical methods and links to further information.

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) website is being updated as further information about this issue becomes available.