The Food Standards Agency has launched a consultation into the labelling of allergens on pre-packed foods for direct sale.

‘Pre-packed foods for direct sale’ are foods that have been packaged on the same premises from which they are being sold, for example sandwiches or boxed salads that have been made by staff in the shop and placed on the shelves for sale. These foods are currently not required to carry labels or information on any allergens that might be contained in the food.

Following a number of high profile instances of allergic reactions ending with terrible consequences, the Food Standards Agency (FSA), together with Defra and the Department for Health and Social Care, have launched a consultation with the aim of improving the labelling of products.

FSA Chairman, Heather Hancock said: “It’s really important that people take this opportunity to have their say, especially those living with a food allergy or intolerance. Clear, accurate and visible allergen labelling is vital to protect the thousands of people at risk of allergic reactions, when buying their daily sandwich, salad or snack to eat on the go. Food businesses have a duty to protect people with food allergies and we welcome the real progress that many have made. This review is looking at whether businesses should do more to keep their customers safe. We all deserve food we can trust, and I encourage everyone to let their voices be heard.”

Food businesses and allergy sufferers are being invited to give their opinion on four options put forward to change the way information is provided on packaging, namely:

  • mandating full ingredient list labelling. This could include allergens being emphasised in bold as for prepacked foods
  • mandating allergen-only labelling on food packaging
  • mandating ‘ask the staff’ labels on all products, with supporting information for consumers available in writing. The information could include allergen information on the full list of ingredients
  • promoting best practice around communicating allergen information to consumers.

The consultation closes on 29 March 2019 and we will report back on the FSA’s conclusions.