Food Standards Agency updates guidance on food allergen labelling

Food Standards Agency updates guidance on food allergen labelling

  • 04 September 2023
  • Business News

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has today (04/09/2023) updated its best practice technical guidance on food allergen labelling to support food businesses and keep consumers safe.

In particular, the technical guidance is recommending a number of changes in relation to how food businesses should use Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL). PAL is extra written allergen information on food packaging to explain that an allergen may be in a food even though it is not an intended ingredient (for example, “May contain”). The updated guidance includes:

  • Only apply a PAL if there is an unavoidable risk of allergen cross-contamination which cannot be sufficiently controlled by segregation and cleaning. 
  • Specify which of the 14 major allergens the PAL refers to – for example, using “may contain peanuts” rather than a generic “may contain nuts” statement. 
  • Use PAL statements in combination with a ‘vegan’ label where a risk of cross-contamination with an allergen has been identified. A ‘vegan’ label communicates different information to a ‘free-from’ claim, which is food safety information aimed at different consumer groups. 
  • Precautionary Allergen Labelling statements should not be used in conjunction with a ‘free from’ statement for the same allergen, because a ‘free-from’ claim is a guarantee that the food is suitable for all with a food hypersensitivity to that allergen.

The guidance also clarifies the difference between a ‘vegan’ claim and a ‘free-from’ claim. PAL statements can be used in combination with a ‘vegan’ label, because a ‘vegan’ label communicates different information and is aimed at a different consumer group. Only ‘free-from’ claims are guarantees that the specified allergen is absent.

Read the full technical guidance on the FSA website.