Changes are afoot……..

Changes Ahead

 

As of the 13th December of this year, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) will be changing the current allergen labelling rules. Hooray!

Here is a summary of the information provided by the FSA

This should make life easier for those that suffer from food allergies not only when it comes to checking labels on pre-packed food but from this date you will also be able to check foods without any packaging. What is also good news is that many businesses are already starting to make changes to how they label allergens on their products ahead of the deadline.

Under the new rules, much of the focus is on highlighting and emphasising the 14 main allergens (mentioned in yesterday’s Itchy Scratchy post) on the food label; particularly the ingredients list.  This should make it much easier to see the allergen without the need for a microscope.

Food businesses can choose what method they want to use.  For example they might list them in bold:

Old
INGREDIENTS: Water, Carrots, Onions, Red
Lentils (4.5%) Potatoes, Cauliflower, Leeks,
Peas, Cornflour, Wheatflour, Salt, Cream,
Yeast Extract, Concentrated Tomato Paste,
Garlic, Sugar, Celery Seed, Vegetable Oil,
Herb and Spice, White Pepper, Parsley.

New
INGREDIENTS: Water, Carrots, Onions, Red
Lentils (4.5%) Potatoes, Cauliflower, Leeks,
Peas, Cornflour, Wheatflour, Salt, Cream,
Yeast Extract, Concentrated Tomato Paste,
Garlic, Sugar, Celery Seed, Vegetable Oil
(sunflower), Herb and Spice, White Pepper,
Parsley.

Other types of emphasis may include writing the allergens in italics, underlined or highlighted words.

What is useful to know however is that with this change to the food label, apparently there will be no additional statement that says ‘contains x’ allergen.  Now I am not sure why this is  – they seem to want to redirect everyone to the ingredient list but I think they could have kept this statement.

The voluntary ‘Contains gluten’ statements that some businesses currently use will be phased out. You will need to look for the cereals containing gluten. For example wheat, rye, and barley will be emphasised within the ingredients list. Again, I think this is a mistake.

Shelves_of_Canned_Vegetables_at_Kroger

Also, bear in mind that some products (such as tinned or dried food) have a long shelf life. It’s possible that you could see both types of labelling (the new and the old) being used on these types of products for a couple of years after December 2014.
It is important to always check the ingredients list for information about allergens.

Dagwinkel_007

Currently, foods purchased without packaging or upon a customer’s request, in supermarkets, delis, cafes and restaurants, don’t have to provide information you need about food allergens.  From December, information on any of the 14 allergens used as ingredients will need to be provided for foods sold without packaging or wrapped on site.  This information could be written down on a chalk board or chart, or provided orally by a member of staff (but I am less confident about this final option; I think many could fall through the net here)

Nut_warning_1

Where the specific allergen information is not provided upfront, clear signposting to where this information could be obtained must be provided.These rules will only cover information about major allergens intentionally used as ingredients. They do not cover allergens present following accidental contact / contamination.

Ocado_delivery

If buying food online, the website must give information about their products that will help you choose items that don’t contain the food you need to avoid. This information might not always be up to date though, so always check the ingredients list or label or speak an advisor every time you order or have food delivered.

If you are allergic to a food that is not on the regulatory list of 14, it may not be included on the allergen information provided.

If in doubt, speak to someone who can advise you. However, as this information does not need to be provided at present, be aware that the person serving you might not actually know what is in the foods.

Don’t take risks if you or they aren’t sure.

I hope you found this helpful!

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