Precautionary labelling for allergens From September 2013 newsletter

Precautionary labelling for allergens – new guidance

Important new guidance on allergens will help companies assess the level of risk of cross–contamination of their products, and take appropriate labelling action as a result, so benefitting consumers who have food allergies.

Some 1–2% of adults and 5–8% of children have been reported to have a true food allergy. Very small amounts of an allergenic foodstuff can cause a severe or even fatal reaction, so food–allergic individuals adopt strict avoidance diets to prevent the consumption of food allergens. As a result, family, friends and care–givers are also likely to modify their food–purchasing habits. It is therefore vitally important that correct allergen information is conveyed to consumers. One area of concern for the food industry relates to accurately communicating the risk of any cross–contamination of a food product with allergens (precautionary labelling, such as 'may contain').

Overview of allergen management

A new guideline document from Campden BRI – Food allergens: practical risk analysis, testing and action levels (Guideline 71) – includes a systematic approach to aid identification of crosscontamination risk factors. It discusses the circumstances where the use of the 'Action Level' concept may be applicable when conducting a risk assessment to determine the need to include precautionary labelling.

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