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Summary Of Food Allergen Labelling Regulations For Prepacked Foods

Allergen Labelling Requirements For Businesses Providing Prepacked Foods

Since 13th December 2014 new allergen labelling and notification rules have been in force for businesses that supply prepacked food or drinks to consumers, such as food manufacturers, packers, retailers and online stores. The Regulations are: EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (No. 1169/2011) (FIC) and Food Information Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1855) (FIR) .

The purpose of the Regulations is to provide information to consumers about potential allergens contained in prepacked food, so that the consumer can see if there is anything in that food that they may be allergic to. The Regulations include a detailed list of the 14 most common allergen groups. If any of these allergens have been used in the preparation or manufacture of the food product then the food business operator is required to clearly display the allergen in the list of ingredients.

Prepacked products with old style allergen labelling that are on the market or have been produced and labelled before 13th December 2014 can still be sold through until the stock has been used up. However, all prepacked food and drink products produced or labelled on or after 13th December 2014 must comply with the labelling requirements.

How the allergens should be emphasised in the ingredients list

• It is permitted to use signposting to direct the consumer to where they can find the allergen information and to show how the allergens are emphasised in the ingredients list, for example “Allergy advice: for allergens, see ingredients in bold”.
• Allergens from the List of Allergens that are present in the preparation or manufacture of the food product should normally be emphasised in bold in the ingredients list in the same form as they are detailed in the List of Allergens. For specific examples of how to detail the allergenic ingredients in the ingredients list and further examples and information on this subject please refer to the Food Standards Agency Technical Guidance which can be found at www.food.gov.uk.
• The allergen notification must be easily accessible, in a conspicuous place, easily visible and clearly legible.
• The allergen information must not be obscured in any way, for example it must not be on a fold or a crease.
• Guidelines are given as to the minimum font size that is acceptable for different sized packaging.
• The List of Allergens also includes details of exemptions.
• Some foods do not have ingredients lists, such as certain alcoholic drinks and in such cases if they contain any substances or products from the List of Allergens then this needs to be declared in the form for example; “Contains: sulphites”.
• Where an ingredients list is provided it is not permitted to also use an allergen advisory statement, for instance: “Contains: wheat, egg and soya” . This repeat of the allergen ingredients information might be confusing to the consumer and the intention of the Regulations is to provide a single and consistent format for food products.
• Precautionary allergen labelling such as: “may contain nuts”, which is used to indicate the unintentional presence of an allergen due to the allergen entering the product accidentally during production, is still permitted but only after a thorough risk assessment has been performed and it is considered that there is a real risk to the food allergic/intolerant consumer.

Prepacked foods sold through distance selling

• When prepacked foods are sold via distance selling the same level of information on allergens must still be provided to the consumer, this may be done by providing the ingredients list on a website or in a catalogue.
• The allergen information must be available to the customer before they make the purchase and again at the point of delivery.
• Food sold from vending machines is exempt from the requirement to provide the information before the conclusion of the purchase.
• If oral information on allergen content is provided to the customer by calling a specific telephone number then the telephone number must not be at an additional cost to the customer.

The contents of this Information Page are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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