Government launches consultation on allergen labelling laws

Outlets selling pre-packaged food could be required to follow new rules designed to give the UK’s two million food allergy sufferers greater confidence in the safety of their food.

Announcing the consultation to overhaul current labelling laws today, environment secretary Michael Gove said the new laws will give consumers clearer information on the food they buy. Under current rules, food prepared on the premise in which it is sold is not required to display allergen information on the package; the proposed rules could go as far as seeing full ingredients labelling required by law.

The moves follow the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, the teenager who died after suffering an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette.

Gove said: “We want to ensure that labels are clearer and that the rules for businesses are more consistent – so that allergy sufferers in this country can have confidence in the safety of their food.

“Many businesses are already bringing changes on board independently, and in the meantime they should continue doing all they can to give consumers the information they need.

“The proposed reforms cover labelling requirements for foods that are packed on the same premises from which they are sold – such as a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase.”

While these foods are not currently required to carry labels, a number of food businesses have already begun to implement changes to their provision of allergen information.

Food labelling: changing food allergen information laws

Food businesses and allergy sufferers are being invited to have their say on four options put forward to improve the way allergy information is provided for these foods, including:

• mandating full ingredient list labelling
• mandating allergen-only labelling on food packaging
• mandating ‘ask the staff’ labels on all products, with supporting information for consumers available in writing
• promoting best practice around communicating allergen information to consumers

Interested parties should respond to the consultation via Defra’s website by 29th March 2019:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/food-labelling-changing-food-allergen-information-laws

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