02/07/2019 | Kate Dunston

Government strengthens allergen labelling rules, making full ingredients labels mandatory

Allergen labelling law

02/07/2019 | Kate Dunston

Government strengthens allergen labelling rules, making full ingredients labels mandatory

We hear from our Strategic Advisor Sterling Crew on the government’s announcement that it will make full ingredients labelling on pre-packed food mandatory.

A law protecting allergy sufferers will be introduced following the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse. The teenager died in 2016 from a severe allergic reaction after eating sesame in an artichoke, olive and tapenade Pret a Manger baguette bought at Heathrow Airport. The legislation will be in place by summer, with a two-year implementation period for businesses to adapt to the change. It will require food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packed foods. The changes will cover labelling requirements for foods that are prepared and packed on the same premises from which they are sold, for example, a packed sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on the shelf for purchase.

Currently food prepared on the same premises from which it is sold is not required to include allergen information on its packaging. The only requirement is for visible signage nearby prompting customers to ask about allergens. The tightening of the rules aims to give the country’s 2 million food allergy sufferers greater confidence in making safe food choices, with clear and consistent food labelling.

But will the new rules really provide better protection for allergic consumers? I’m not sure if a label is truly a better alternative to a conversation with shop staff, and the new labelling requirements might well discourage this important dialogue taking place. Labelling in its own right has its own dangers. What happens if the wrong label is placed on the right product, or the right label is placed on the wrong product? This can have disastrous consequences if a potential allergen is under declared. The Food Standards already reports regularly on product recalls due to labelling errors. These are often from large well resourced, sophisticated manufacturers and retailers. However, the majority of the premises covered by the new legislation are micro, small or medium businesses more vulnerable to error.

If you need advice or support during the transition period please contact Shield Safety Group. With strategic services and operational software solutions to suit businesses of all sizes we can help you manage food safety compliance in your kitchen. Contact us today to find out more.