Informing consumers of changes to your product’s allergen status

allergen change alert

The Allergen Bureau and consumer organisations such as Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA) strongly encourage individuals with food allergy to read the ingredient list, the allergen summary statement and the precautionary statement on packaged food every time a product is purchased. However, in reality and for many reasons, this does not always happen.

People with food allergy can become familiar with foods that they have previously checked and they continue to purchase them as ‘safe foods’. This is fine until a manufacturer introduces an allergen to a product that did not previously contain it – as an ingredient or through cross contact – and the allergic consumer is unaware of the changed allergen status of the product.

To help reduce the risk of allergic reactions, manufacturers should seriously consider how they communicate these changes which could put some consumers at risk of having an allergic reaction including anaphylaxis. Even though a new formulation is correctly labelled it would also assist consumers if food manufacturers:

  • Put wording on front of pack that alerts consumers to a product change
  • Put an alert out through the manufacturer’s communication channels – such as their website or social media
  • In Australia, contact Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (via coordinator@allergyfacts.org.au or call 02 9680 2999) and ask them to alert their members to a product change. A&AA can then notify these changes through A&AA email, tweet, Facebook and Instagram using wording supplied by the food manufacturer

While consumers with food allergy may be disappointed a food is no longer on their ‘safe’ list, they will applaud the food manufacturer for giving them the heads-up of these changes in allergen status.

Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia is a charitable, not for profit organisation established in 1993. The aim of A&AA is to improve awareness of allergy in the Australian community by sharing current information, education, advocacy, research, guidance and support. A&AA outreach extends to individuals, families, school, workplaces, health professionals, government, food industry and all Australians.

In New Zealand, contact Allergy New Zealand (via allergy@allergy.org.nz or call 0800 34 0800). Allergy New Zealand is a national charity that offers reliable information, education and support so you can manage your or your child’s allergy, and live an active and healthy