Food allergens used as ingredients or processing aids must be declared on the packaging or at the point of sale. See the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No.1169/2011 and Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No.78/2014.
Food must not be placed on the market if it is considered to be harmful to health.
How to label allergens
Products containing allergens can be labelled in a number of ways. For example you could list them in bold, contrasting colours or by underlining them.
Annex II of the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) guidance lists the major foods which can cause allergic reactions. If your product contains any item on this list, it must be included on the label.
An example of how to list allergens on your product is below:
- Ingredients: Water, Carrots, Onions, Red Lentils (4.5%) Potatoes, Cauliflower, Leeks, Peas, Cornflour, Wheat flour, Salt, Cream, Yeast Extract, Concentrated Tomato Paste, Garlic, Sugar, Celery Seed, Sunflower Oil, Herbs and Spice, White Pepper, Parsley.
Allergenic ingredients must be declared with a clear reference to the allergen as listed in the EU FIC to ensure clear and uniform understanding.
Examples of ingredients that need to be clearly referenced to the allergen are:
- tofu (soya)
- tahini paste (sesame)
- whey (milk)
Allergen advice statements can also be used on the product label to explain how allergen information is presented on a label, for example:
- ‘Allergen Advice: for allergens, see ingredients in bold’
- ‘Allergen Advice: for allergens including cereals that contain gluten see ingredients in red’
When it comes to alcoholic drinks where no ingredients list is present, allergens can be indicated by the word ‘contains’ followed by the name of the allergen.
An explanation of the EU Food Information for Consumer Regulation No.1169/2011 including the EU Commission Delegated Regulation No.78/2014 is provided by the Food allergen labelling technical guidance.
Allergen labelling for manufacturing
If there is a risk of a food product being affected by allergen cross-contamination, the label should include one of the following statements:
- may contain X
- not suitable for someone with X allergy
Precautionary allergen labelling should only be used following a thorough risk assessment when there is a risk of allergen cross-contamination is real and cannot be removed.
Free-from labelled foods
Free from food are special ranges of foods made without allergens. If a label states that your product is 'free-from milk' or, 'peanut free', it has to be based on specific and rigorous controls. This includes checking that all ingredients and packing materials do not contain the particular allergen and that cross contamination from other foods made on site is prevented.