FDA warns top bakery to stop claiming its foods contain allergens when they don’t

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning a top U.S. bakery not to claim that foods contain potentially dangerous allergens on its product labels when they don’t. 

The FDA found that Bimbo Bakeries USA – which includes popular brands such as Sara Lee, Entenmann’s and Oroweat – listed ingredients like sesame seeds, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts on labels when they weren’t in the foods.

The inspection was conducted by the FDA last October. In a warning letter to the company, the agency said some of the products were "misbranded" and the labels were "false and misleading." 

"FDA expects food manufacturers to follow good manufacturing practices and implement preventive controls to prevent the unintentional incorporation of allergens into foods which are not formulated to contain them," the FDA wrote in its letter on June 17.

FILE: Sara Lee and Bimbo bread products are displayed together on shelf. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In addition, FDA officials indicated that allergen labeling was "not a substitute" for preventing cross-contamination in factories.

In the warning letter, the agency specifically cited the Sara Lee brand Artesano Brioche, Delightful Multigrain, Artesano Golden Wheat and Artesano Smooth Multigrain ready-to-eat (RTE) bread loaf products, along with Brownberry's brand Whole Grains 12 Grains and Seeds RTE bread loaves. 

Bimbo must notify the FDA within 15 days of receiving the letter with specific steps they will take to address the violations. 

RELATED: Sesame officially added to FDA's major food allergen list

"Bimbo Bakeries USA takes our role in protecting consumers with allergen sensitivities very seriously, through good manufacturing practices in our facilities and informative labeling on our packages," the Mexico City-based food giant said in a statement to FOX Television Stations. "We are corresponding with the FDA to resolve this matter."

According to NPR, advocates with the nonprofit group FARE, Food Allergy Research & Education, said such labeling "does a disservice" to people in the U.S. with food allergies, because they have to be constantly aware of foods that can cause potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.

Sesame officially named major food allergen

Last year, Sesame was officially added to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's list of major food allergens.

The law requires all foods made and sold in the U.S. to be labeled if they contain sesame, which is now the nation's ninth major allergen and joins milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.

Some companies, including Bimbo, have begun listing allergens such as sesame on labels as a precaution in case of cross-contamination.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.