New allergen labelling regulations prompt UK survey on consumer preferences

Allergen Labelling

The Food Information Regulations (FIR) will apply in the UK from 13 December 2014. The Food Standards Agency has commenced a study that will develop understanding of the preferences and information-seeking behaviours of those with food allergies and intolerances when eating out or buying foods that are not pre-packed. The study will inform advice, guidance and tools for consumers and food businesses ahead of the new legislative requirements of the FIR.

The main aim of the research is to gain information before the FIR come into effect, for comparison after they apply. The focus will be on gaining an understanding of the preferences of food allergic and intolerant consumers on the provision of 14 identified allergenic ingredients when buying and eating foods that are not pre-packed and the reported impact that providing this information will have on the quality of life of sensitised consumers.

The first part of the study will be conducted during 2014 and will involve a review of relevant literature, interviews with food allergic and intolerant individuals and a national survey to explore the information-seeking practices and preferences of these consumers in relation to foods not pre-packed. A workshop will be held to establish the feasibility of food businesses incorporating these preferences into their information provision practices.

The second component of the study will commence once the labelling laws have come into effect to assess changes in the quality of life of allergic and intolerant consumers. This will allow a comparison of results and outcomes before and after the implementation of the new allergen rules.

The study, which is being carried out by researchers at the University of Bath, will conclude in 2016.

More information about the new FIR and the FSA survey can be accessed here.