Guidance on "Free-From" Allergen Claims

Guidance to manufacturers and caterers on the appropriate use of "free-from" claims in relation to food allergens.


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Executive Summary

A growing number of food business operators, including manufacturers, retailers and caterers are making “free-from” allergen or “allergen-free” claims for their food products. This document provides guidance to food business operators on the appropriate use of “free-from” claims in relation to food allergens. Terms such as “free-from artificial colours/preservatives” and “meat-free” are outside the scope of this guidance.

With the exception of “gluten-free”, there is no specific UK or EU legislation covering “free-from” claims. “Free-from” claims are therefore regulated in accordance with the provisions of General Food Law (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002), as amended.

A “free-from” allergen claim is an absolute claim unless a regulatory threshold has been set and should only be used following a rigorous assessment of the ingredients, process and environment.

To make a “free-from” claim the following principles should be followed:

  1. The product recipe does not use any ingredients or compound ingredients (including additives and processing aids) containing the specified “free-from” allergen. (See sections 3 and 6 for exceptions)
  2. The product is made in an environment (e.g. a factory or catering facility) strictly following good manufacturing practices (GMP) and allergen management practices. (See sections 4 and 5)
  3. A robust sampling and testing programme (using a fully validated analytical method) suitable for the specified allergen must be in place. (See sections 4 and 5)
  4. The communication of a “free-from” claim to consumers, including labelling, of the product must comply with the relevant legal requirements. For catering in particular, since foods will be provided in a nonprepacked format, effective communication practices (between customer, front and back of house) are imperative.

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Last reviewed: 12 Nov 2015