Since December 2014, new rules apply for food allergen labeling. Labeling rules in European Directives ensure that all consumers are given comprehensive ingredient listing information and make it easier for people with food allergies to identify products they need to avoid. The new regulation introduces a new requirement for allergen information to be provided for foods sold non-packed or pre-packed for direct sale.
Harmonized presentation of allergens
The new EU regulation obligates manufacturers to provide clearly legible nutrition information on packaging, including a clearer and harmonized presentation of allergens for pre-packed foods (emphasis by font, style or background color). In the guidelines to directive 2000/13/EC, regarding allergens, the European Commission states:
“The second objective […] is that consumers suffering from allergy or intolerance shall be able to identify the ingredient they are sensitive to, and, in that purpose, all ingredients listed […] as well as ingredients or substances originating from these ingredients will have to be indicated with a clear reference to the name under which the allergen is known.”
Allergens that have to be mentioned
- cereals containing gluten namely wheat, rye, barley, oats and their hybridized strains and products thereof
- crustaceans (prawns, lobster, crabs, crayfish, …)
- nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut, cashew, pecan nut, Brazil nut, pistachio nut and Macadamia nut)
- sesame seeds
- sulphur dioxide and sulphites at concentrations of more than 10mg/kg or 10mg/L
- molluscs (mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, snails, squid, …)
Not only pre-packed foods require allergen information, non-prepacked food, including those served in restaurants and cafes now also require mandatory allergen information.
Other key changes to the labeling rules
- improved legibility of information (minimum font size for mandatory information);
- requirement of certain nutrition information for a majority of pre-packed processed foods;
- mandatory origin information for fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry;
- same labeling requirements for online, distance-selling or buying in a shop;
- list of engineered nanomaterials in the ingredients.
- specific information on the vegetable origin of refined oils and fats;
- strengthened rules to prevent misleading practices;
- indication of substitute ingredient for ‘Imitation’ foods;
- clear indication of “formed meat” or “formed fish” and
- clear indication of defrosted products.