FSA updates best practice guidance on food allergen labelling
In September, the FSA released updated technical guidance on allergen labelling, aimed at assisting businesses in effectively handling allergens and ensuring the provision of appropriate labelling to better serve consumers.
The latest revision offers increased clarity regarding the appropriate use of precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) statements. Furthermore it highlights the benefits and drawbacks of using a ‘Non-Gluten Containing Ingredients (NGCI)’ statement.
Precautionary allergen labelling
- PAL should only be used if an unavoidable risk of allergen cross contamination was identified following a risk assessment that cannot be fully controlled through various controls (e.g. cleaning)
- PAL statements should emphasize one or more of the 14 regulated allergens that may be unintentionally present in the food.
The term "May contain peanuts" rather than "May contain nuts" should be used on the label to stress the danger that a product may contain a specific ingredient
- In addition, the guidance establishes that PAL statement can be used in combination with a ‘vegan’ label, as a ‘vegan’ label highlights different information to a ‘free from’ claim
Non-gluten containing ingredients statements
- The guidance recommends avoiding the following non-gluten containing ingredient statements: “This menu has been designed for a non-gluten diet. It’s a selection of dishes that do not contain gluten in their ingredients”. Instead, a “gluten-free” declaration establishing that the food offered contains no more than 20mg/kg of gluten should be used
- If a food company decides to use an NGCI statement, the company must emphasize that the food to which the statement refers is not suitable for celiac disease
Implementing these guidelines will assist food businesses in ensuring their products accurately convey allergenic information, thereby establishing trust with consumers.
According to the FSA, the guidance is scheduled for another review by December 2024. Upcoming initiatives will explore the potential introduction of allergen threshold standards, alongside ongoing efforts to enhance the accessibility of allergen information.
For expert assistance with allergen labelling compliance in the UK, EU, and beyond, Leatherhead Food Research's scientific and regulatory affairs team is here to support you. Follow the link to learn more about our label compliance services. And reach out to us at [email protected] to learn more about how we can assist your business.