Some people have reproducible adverse reactions to certain foods. Collectively referred to as a food hypersensitivity, these include a food allergy, food intolerance, and coeliac disease.

To inform allergic consumers, food allergen labelling is mandatory. Pre-packed food or drink that contains any of the 14 regulated food allergens used as ingredients or processing aids must be declared and emphasised within the ingredients list. Food and drink manufacturers are very aware of the risk to consumers of food allergens, therefore take steps to control unintended allergen presence. Only, after a thorough risk assessment, where there is a demonstrable risk of unintentional presence that cannot be removed through appropriate controls should precautionary allergen labelling be used (e.g. 'may contain').

The FDF supports progress towards agreement of reference doses/thresholds to enable quantitative risk assessment in the management of food allergens.

Updates & milestones

FSA Food Hypersensitivity (FHS) Programme Update & Final Report from Science Council Working Group 5 (WG5) on Food Hypersensitivity

The following papers were disucssed at the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Board meeting on 16 June 2021: Food Hypersensitivity (FHS) Programme Update, Final Report from Science Council Working Group 5 (WG5) on Food Hypersensitivity and FSA’s Response.

The FSA consider that its FHS programme remains on track to deliver to agreed business plan milestones for FY21/22, and that the current programme activity is focused on: 1). Improving our understanding of FHS; 2). Working with stakeholders and supporting businesses; 3).  Supporting FHS consumers; and 4). Engaging internationally.

The Final Report from Science Council WG5 on FHS (June 2021) identified the research priorities for the FSA over the next 5 years in the area of FHS, which were developed via a Priority Setting Exercise (PSE) with wide stakeholder input. It also identified a series of future priorities in a 5 to 15-year timeframe, which was based on a horizon scanning workshop that took place in March 2021. 

FSA Board & Science Council Working Group 5 on Food Hypersensitivity

The September Food Standards Agency (FSA) Board meeting included the discussion of a paper on the Science Council’s Working Group 5 on Food Hypersensitivity (WG5), which introduced its Interim Report (August 2020) (ASG-046-20). These papers were presented by Dr Paul Turner (Imperial College London) in his role as Chair of WG5, and the following workplan was shared:

  1. Review of the FSA’s existing Food Allergy and Intolerance Research (FAIR) programme.
  2. Priority Setting Exercise for food hypersensitivity research.
  3. A review of existing working practices within the FSA on the broader commissioning and use of research.
  4. Review of the existing evidence underpinning the Top 10 priority areas in food hypersensitivity identified in WG5.2.
  5. Horizon scanning workshop. This will be used to identify future priorities in commissioning research on food hypersensitivity (5-15-year timeframe).

FSA Technical Guidance on Food Allergen Labelling and Information Requirements

This best practice and regulatory guidance aims to help food businesses follow allergen labelling requirements. It intended to accompany the provisions on food hypersensitivity (i.e. allergies, intolerances and sensitivities) of the Food Information Regulations 2014 (as amended and corresponding Regulations in Wales, and Northern Ireland) and EU Food Information to Consumers (FIC) Regulation No 1169/2011.

Being a devolved responsibility food hypersensitivity policy lies with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) in Scotland.

Further information for members is also available via the FDF Allergens Toolkit.

FDF Guidance on 'Allergen'-Free and Vegan Claims

In February 2020, the FDF Guidance on 'Allergen'-Free and Vegan Claims was published on the FSA website. This best prectice guidance aims to inform both the wider food industry and consumers as to the difference between 'allergen'-free claims (e.g. milk-free) and vegan claims. Each claim communicates to different consumer groups, with only the allergen absence claim being food safety information.

FDF Gluten Labelling Guidance

In June 2019, the FDF published an updated version its FDF Gluten Labelling Guidance (V2 - June 2019). This UK best practice guidance aims to provide advice to food business operators, irrespective of size, on how to label food products that include cereals containing gluten through review of the relevant EU and UK legislation and guidance; alongside the claims that can be made relating to the absence or reduced presence of gluten (e.g. gluten-free).

This best practice guidance has been produced to illustrate examples of the usual and more challenging labelling situations of foods made with cereals containing gluten. Special consideration is also given to oats and wheat species.

News

The FDF publishes guidance on 'Allergen'-Free and Vegan Claims

The FDF has today published 'FDF Guidance on 'Allergen'-Free and Vegan Claims'.

Read more

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Guidance

Gluten labelling guidance

This UK best practice guidance aims to provide advice to food business operators, irrespective of size, on how to label food products that include cereals containing gluten through review of the relevant EU and UK legislation and guidance.

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Report

Guidance on “Free-From” allergen claims

This best practice guidance, jointly developed by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and British Retail Consortium (BRC), provides regulatory advice to food manufacturers and caterers on the appropriate use of “free-from” claims in relation to food allergens.

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