On 26 May 2018, products containing the legume Lupin became subject to mandatory allergen warning requirements under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code). It’s inclusion is a timely reminder for businesses to ensure that their product labelling includes warnings required by the Code.
By operation of Standard 1.2.3 of the Code (the Standard), food manufacturers must label their products with a warning when a designated allergen may be present as an ingredient or compound ingredient, food additive or processing aid. These allergens include Milk, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Cereals containing Gluten, Seafood, Shellfish, Soy, Sesame Seeds and now, Lupin.
Similarly, the Code requires inclusion of a prescribed warning statement for products containing Royal Jelly, and an advisory statement for products with Aspartame, Guarana, Propolis, or Polyols and Polydextrose over a specified limit.
Food businesses should ensure that these warnings are present on food packaging, or otherwise corrective stickers are applied to products already on the shelf. For products that are not packaged (i.e. takeaway food), allergen information must be clearly displayed when the food is sold or available to be provided to the customer on request.
Plain English allergen labelling review
Currently, the Standard does not specify how the above declarations are to be made, both in general and specifically for each category of allergen.
FSANZ is currently considering the following amendments, requiring:
- molluscs to be declared separately from fish, and clarifying the definition of “fish” in the Code to require specification for whether it includes crustacea and molluscs or fin-fish alone, to acknowledge separate allergies to these categories of seafood;
- the identification of “tree nuts” that correspond with allergies specifically;
- a distinction between cereals associated with allergies and gluten intolerances;
- adoption of standard plain English terms, rather than chemical compounds that may cause consumer confusion; and
- use of the word “contains” in food allergen declarations. At present, use of “contains” is voluntary and there is concern that consumers may assume products without the statement are allergen-free.
Until these requirements are formalised, businesses should include a prominent disclaimer on the food packaging indicating the presence of the respective allergens i.e. “contains”, “may contain traces of” or “processed in a facility that also processes”.