What’s the latest in food allergen labelling?

9 April 2024

Food allergen labelling regulation is a complex and challenging area for food, beverage, and supplement businesses. One aspect of this is a lack of harmony in the recognition and definition of allergens. EU and UK regulations identify 14 different allergens whereas many other markets focus on a group of highly allergenic foods known as the Big 8.

Food allergen labelling | Leatherhead Food Research

The tree nut example

Tree nuts are a prime example of the complexities at play here. In the US, 21 ingredients, including coconut, are defined as tree nuts. Coconut is also included in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) definition. On the other hand, Australia and New Zealand identify nine ingredients as tree nuts, and coconut is not one of them.

Regulatory flux

Global food allergen labelling regulations are also subject to ongoing change and development. Several markets are working on, or have recently announced, changes. For example, in Japan, seven food allergens were formerly specified for labelling, but this was extended in March 2023 with the addition of walnut. The Food Labelling Standard now includes walnut as an allergen for mandatory declaration, and all businesses must comply by 1 April 2025. Another announcement suggests that the Consumers Affairs Agency of Japan is considering adding macadamia nuts and removing matsutake mushrooms from the list of allergens for voluntary declaration.

Is better harmony on the horizon?

A draft revision to the Codex General Standard for the Labelling of Pre-packaged Foods – Provisions relevant to Allergen Labelling is set to be forwarded for adoption. This will apply to all pre-packaged food, and updates include definitions for ‘hypersensitivity’, ‘allergen’, ‘food allergy’ and ‘food intolerance’. It is to be hoped that this development may stimulate better harmony across some global markets.

In the meantime, if you need help navigating this complex space our multilingual regulatory specialists are here to help. Find out more about our food label compliance services here.

This information is taken from a Leatherhead Food Research members’ whitepaper on the global regulatory landscape for allergens. Our members receive detailed updates on topical regulatory matters throughout the year. If you’re interested in becoming a member, further information is available here.

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