Legislation (continued)

Specific allergen legislation

For the purpose of this guidance, gluten and, sulphur dioxide have specific rules pertaining to them. Only infant formula has thresholds for lactose in the United Kingdom and European Union.


Currently in the EU the only “free-from” claim which is covered by specific legislation relates to gluten i.e. “gluten-free”, “suitable for people intolerant to gluten” or “suitable for coeliacs”. In addition to gluten, there are other proteins within gluten-containing cereals that are allergenic. Consequently a wheat, barley or rye allergy should be considered differently to coeliac disease.

Since there is a legislative limit for claiming “gluten-free”, there are exceptional circumstances where some glutencontaining ingredients may be added to “gluten-free” products providing the final product has a level of gluten below the threshold of 20 ppm. Barley malt extract is an example of this exception.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 41/2009 established the rules for the use of terms concerning the absence of gluten. From this date, rules relating to gluten will be governed by Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 and set out in Commission implementing Regulation (EU) No 828/2014.

This regulation is explicit in permitting only these statements to be used to provide information to consumers on the absence of gluten in food. Furthermore, if you are using the statements, the conditions and compositional requirements laid out in the regulation must be complied with.

It is misleading to suggest that a food possesses special characteristics when in fact all similar foods possess such characteristics, therefore you cannot claim “glutenfree” on water and similar products.

For more information on gluten see FDF Gluten Labelling Guidance.

For more information about claiming gluten-free in a catering environment see Coeliac UK.

Sulphur dioxide and sulphites

There is no specific legislation for “free-from” sulphur dioxide/sulphites claims; however the Food Information to Consumers Regulation states that the allergen must be listed in the ingredients list and emphasised when the total SO2 for sulphur dioxide and sulphites is above 10ppm.

For more information on sulphites see BRC Allergen Labelling Guidance (2013) Section 7


In EU legislation, thresholds for making a “lactose-free” claim have only been defined for infant and followon formula, which prescribes that the lactose content should be ≤ 10 mg/100 kcal (2.5 mg/100 kJ). A number of European countries have specific guidance thresholds for lactose however a level has not been adopted in general EU legislation.

Exempt ingredients derived from allergenic foodstuffs

Some specific ingredients derived from allergenic foodstuffs are not allergenic themselves and have been officially exempted in legislation from mandatory labelling (See section 6 glossary under 'EU Regulated Allergens' for these exemptions).

Next page: Risk assessment for prepacked foodstuffs

Last reviewed: 12 Nov 2015