Wednesday 8th May 2019
Today the Food Standards Agency held an Extraordinary Board Meeting on food allergies. They considered the analysis of responses to the Allergen Labelling Review on Pre-Packed for Direct Sale food, which 1,675 individuals, 126 businesses, 83 public sector bodies and 24 non-governmental organisations responded to.
The FSA Board decided to recommend to ministers the adoption of full ingredient list labelling, with allergens emphasised on products pre-packed for direct sale.
FSA chair Heather Hancock said the FSA had chosen the strictest of the options they had under discussion because “ultimately this is a life-threatening issue for a proportion of the population, we are balancing consumer protection, public health protection, with the ability of people being able to deliver good business service and choice for people with an allergy or intolerance’’.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ( DEFRA) will have the final say over whether new rules are introduced but if ministers choose to proceed with the recommendation, food businesses that prepare and pack food for direct sale must provide the full list of ingredients and highlight the presence of the 14 allergens on such products.
The review of allergen labelling follows from the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after eating a baguette from Pret a Manger at Heathrow airport in July 2016. The coroner who presided over the inquest of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse concluded that the current legislation is not adequate and requested a review. The Anaphylaxis Campaign welcomed this review and is delighted that after consultation with allergic consumers and food businesses, the FSA has made this recommendation.
Lynne Regent, CEO of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, was in attendance to hear the wide-ranging debate that took place by the board members who carefully considered the challenges and opportunities this position may lead to.
“We welcome the recommendation from the FSA and hope this decision raise awareness of the importance of good allergen management within the food industry,” says Lynne Regent.
UPDATE: Food Standards Scotland – Wednesday 15th May 2019
At a public meeting today, the FSS Board reviewed and assessed responses to the consultation, and discussed consumer benefits as well as the risks associated with four options as set out in the consultation. It concluded that FSS should recommend moving towards full ingredient labelling of foods that are pre-packed for direct sale in Scotland, and that further work should be undertaken to assess the benefits and all of the risks in more detail.
What is the current legislation for a food business that makes and sells food on the same site?
At present when a food business sells prepacked food for direct sale the same regulations apply as to non-prepacked food under the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No. 1169/2011 commonly known as EU FIR 2014. This means food businesses preparing their products freshly on their premises are exempted from the obligation of labelling them with a list of ingredients including the provision of allergen information. This is because it is expected that the customer is able to speak with the person who made or packed the product to ask about ingredients. All mandatory allergen ingredients information (the 14) should be available and easily accessible for the consumer and this can be communicated through a variety of means to suit the business format of the food business operator.
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