Plain English Allergen Labelling being tackled by FSANZ

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is working on a proposal to implement a Plain English Allergen Labelling (PEAL) system, which should result in simpler, clearer, more easy-to-understand labels.

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code already contains a mandatory requirement to label 10 specified allergens where they are present in a food as an ingredient or component of an ingredient or as a processing aid. However, there are currently no requirements relating to the terminology that should be used and, as a result, there are several issues identified relating to the use of unclear terminology.

A primary concern is the terminology used to label fish, crustacea and molluscs; tree nuts; and cereals containing gluten. The use of technical language is also an issue. For example, some consumers may not know that sodium caseinate is sourced from dairy products. There are also issues with terminology used in mandatory label elements (e.g. in ingredient lists) versus declarations made in other places on the label, such as in a separate ‘contains’ statement.

FSANZ released a consultation paper  on 1 March 2018 outlining approaches that could be used to make sure that allergen labelling is provided in clear, plain English.

The paper also includes a number of possible labelling changes for consideration that relate to fish and molluscs as allergens, the types of tree nuts that must be declared as allergens, and the declaration of wheat and gluten

Feedback is now being sought, and responses will help determine an approach to a second consultation paper, which will include draft amendments to the Food Standards Code.

The deadline for submitting a response to the initial consultation paper is 6pm (Canberra time) Thursday 10 May 2018 (note this deadline has been extended by 4 weeks from the original date of 12 April 2018).

The Allergen Bureau intends to provide a submission to FSANZ on the Plain English Allergen Labelling (PEAL) consultation paper on behalf of our members.

For more information including how to make a submission, visit the FSANZ website.