European food allergen labelling clarified

Following collaboration with member states of the European Union and public consultation, in July 2017 the European Commission adopted a Notice on the provision of information on substances or products causing allergies or intolerances. This document is intended to assist consumers, businesses and national authorities in understanding the new requirements of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 as it relates to food allergen labelling.

The guidance includes more precise definitions of some of the food allergens requiring labelling, such as milk and eggs. Milk has now been defined as coming from the mammary gland of farmed animals, which are predominantly cattle, buffaloes, goats, sheep and camels. Similarly, labelling is required for any food or ingredient containing eggs, where these come from all farmed birds, including but not limited to chicken, turkey, goose, duck, ostrich, and quail.

On the other hand, the guidance documents confirms only those nuts and gluten-containing cereals listed in Annex II of the legislation are required to be labelled as these respective allergic substances. For cereals containing gluten, the exhaustive list includes wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut or their hybridised strains. For nuts, this includes almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, and macadamia or Queensland nuts.

Requirements for listing allergens on pre-packaged foods, on products with or without ingredients lists, and on unpackaged foods are also clarified in the document.

The allergen labelling guidance can be accessed here.