Improving the use of ‘may contain’ allergen statements

Following calls from the food industry for greater clarity and guidance, two UK agencies, the Institute of Food Safety Integrity & Protection (TiFSiP) and The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), have teamed up to produce a white paper on food allergen labelling.

The paper considers concerns raised at industry events, in particular at an expert roundtable held in the UK in June 2015. The roundtable was attended by: representatives from the food service and manufacturing sectors; from a body representing consumers with food allergies; a toxicologist with specific experience of allergen control, an environmental health professional; and a regulatory specialist with expertise in UK and European Union allergen legislation.

The focus of this paper is on the ‘may contain’ issues raised by the roundtable attendees. It identifies measures that could reduce uncertainty related to the provision and interpretation of ‘may contain’ statements, identifies key guidance documents and suggests areas for improvement.

The authors of the paper aimed to stimulate a debate between food service operators and consumers with food allergies about the use of precautionary allergen statements. Specific attention is paid to issues related to food service operators passing on ‘may contain’ statements from manufacturers to consumers.

The free white paper is available for instant download via the TiFSiP website.