The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced today that Barr had withdrawn a 500ml batch of the lemonade due to the presence of aspartame (an artificial sweetener used in low calorie drinks).
“This is a potential safety issue for anyone with phenylketonuria (PKU) who are recommended not to consume aspartame-containing products,” the FSA said in a statement.
An FSA spokeswoman told BeverageDaily.com that this type of labeling error "rarely occurs", and said brands were obliged by law (Annex I of Commission Directive 2008/5/EC) to signal the presence of aspartame with the statement "contains a source of phenylalanine".
Sufferers from rare inherited disease phenylketonuria (PKU) are unable to metabolise amino acid phenylalanine effectively, leading to its accumulation in potentially harmful levels.
PKU can cause serious brain damage
PKU affects 1 in 10000 people, and if left untreated can cause serious brain damage; sufferers must folllow a strict diet to limit phenylalanine intake, and must avoid aspartame, the presence of which must be clearly labeled by law.
An AG Barr spokesperson told BeverageDaily.com that it had withdrawn batch 3083 of Barr Lemonade due to a "labeling error", where the batch affected has a best before end date of December 2013.
“Following a recent recipe change, the product should have been manufactured with updated labels that include aspartame as an ingredient. Aspartame is not listed on the label of this single batch," the spokesperson said.
They added: “The company takes this matter seriously and all steps have been taken to remove the incorrectly labelled bottles from the distribution chain promptly and efficiently. All other batches are unaffected and are correctly labelled."
'We acted quickly to address situation': AG Barr
The spokesperson said that AG Barr did not expect the majority of its customers to be affected in any way, and had acted quickly to address the situation and ensure only correctly labelled products were on the market.
According to the FSA website, products containing sweeteners such as aspartame must show the statement 'with sweetener(s)' or 'with sugar and sweetener(s)' on the label close to the main product name.
"In addition, foods that contain aspartame must be labeled with a warning 'contains a source of phenylalanine'", the agency said, specifically to aid sufferers from PKU to avoid such foods.