If, like me, you have an allergy, you spend a lot of your life checking the labels of food in supermarkets, or asking in cafes and restaurants if a dish or a sandwich contains nuts, eggs, kiwi or any number of things that can trigger an anaphylactic shock or even death. Only in the past decade have supermarkets and suppliers become more careful about labelling. Yet Tesco has surely gone too far the other way and are now slapping a blanket “May contain nuts” or “Cannot guarantee nut free” on nearly everything.
This would be fine if it were chocolate bars or biscuits presumably manufactured on the same line as those that contain nuts. But this week campaigners on Twitter have highlighted wafer-thin ham, bags of new potatoes and Indian tonic water as potentially containing nuts. Tesco’s explanation is as wafer thin as its ham – it says it must label anything that may have come into contact with an allergen. Yet with its blanket labelling, which the Food Standards Agency advises against, Tesco seems to be saying that it doesn’t know what’s in any of its products. Worse, it could be just as risky because nut allergy sufferers like me could simply disregard them.
Lucky 7? Give me 23 any day
The world’s favourite number was revealed this week, and the winner is seven. To my relief, I should add, because this means my favourite, 23, is kept lucky just for me and the slightly obsessive people who believe in the “23 enigma”.
This was the subject of a film starring Jim Carrey, and believers - including those who think there’s an Illuminati and the great but bonkers novelist William S Burroughs - think that all things are linked to this special number. I don’t, I hasten to add, but I still use it in my everyday life as a “lucky number” – booking reservations on plane or trains, for example, and even in my Twitter handle, @janemerrick23. But this is only because I was born on the 23rd of the month, and not out of any belief in a greater conspiracy that we are governed by numbers. I should add that the only time I’ve been to a casino, I kept putting money on 23 on the roulette wheel and ended up winning hundreds – much to the dismay of the croupier. I told you it was lucky.