The food allergen regulations 2014

Video 4 of 22
3 min 37 sec

New allergen labelling regulations were put into force for all businesses that supply food or drinks to consumers. The relevant regulations are the EU Food Information for Consumers regulations and the Food Innovation regulations 2014. These regulations took effect in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So whether you are a food manufacturer, a restaurant, a mobile burger van, a supplier of sandwiches to offices and shops or catering in a kitchen, you are deemed as a food business operator and these regulations apply to you. It is estimated that in the UK, two million people have a food allergy. An allergic reaction can be produced by a very small amount of the allergen and this can result in serious symptoms. Every year in the UK, around ten people die from allergic reactions to food. People who have food allergies need to avoid the food that causes the allergic reaction and consequently, they need to know whether or not the allergen is in the food they eat. For this reason, the regulations require food businesses to provide clear and accurate information on the allergens present in the food they produce and to ensure that all pre-packaged food is clearly labelled for allergens.

Some of the groups of substances covered by the regulations include products that could cause allergies or intolerances like cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts and other nuts and soya beans. Although there are some exceptions, milk and milk products, including lactose. Again, there are some exceptions, celery, mustard, sesame seed, sulphur dioxide and sulphites, a concentration of more than 10 milligrams per kilo, lupins and finally, products containing any types of molluscs. The regulations apply to foods sold pre-packaged, non-pre-packaged and pre-packaged for direct sale by food businesses. The regulations do not apply to food provided by individuals who are not food businesses but may sometimes include food at charitable events or school cake sales. The regulations include a list of the most common ingredients and processing aids that cause food allergies and intolerance. In accordance with the legislation, if your food product contains or uses an ingredient or processing aid derived from one of the listed substances or products, then it will need to be declared to the customer.

The pre-packed food, the regulations require that the food business displays a list of each of the potential allergens they have used either in the preparation or manufacture of the food they are providing. The regulations even give details about the size of the labels and the font that should be used, so the information is clearly displayed. Pre-packed products with old-style allergen labelling that are on the market or have been produced or labelled before the 13th of December 2014 can still be sold, though the stock has to be used up. However, all pre-packaged food and drink products produced or labelled after the 13th of December 2014 must comply with the new labelling requirements. For non-pre-packed food and food pre-packed for direct sale, in certain circumstances, the regulations allow for this information to be provided orally. Failure to comply with the regulations is a criminal offence and can result in a fine and criminal prosecution. Queries about the regulations can be made to your local enforcement agency, such as the local trading standards or environmental health department.