By Allergen Bureau

FSANZ Update – New allergen labelling requirements imminent

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has been working since 2018 on a proposal to make food allergen labelling clearer and more consistent. The aim is to help people with food allergies make informed choices and support food businesses to get their labelling right. The changes required under the Plain English Allergen Labelling (PEAL) proposal are likely to become law in mid-February 2021.

Stakeholder consultations, research and public comment has guided FSANZ’s development of a draft variation to the existing Food Standards Code. The draft was approved by the FSANZ Board in December 2020. The Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation is currently considering the proposal and if no review is sought, the changes will become law next month.

Key changes relate to the format, wording and location of allergen information presented on food labelling, including (but not limited to) the use of mandatory specified terms of the allergen source, use of bold type for allergens in the ingredients list, and a separate but co-located allergen summary statement beginning with the word ‘contains’. 

FSANZ has also considered how these requirements will apply to foods not required to bear a label or display a statement of ingredients, foods sold to caterers and special purpose foods.

There will be a three-year transition period from the date of gazettal of the Code variation, followed by a two year stock-in-trade period for implementation of PEAL. In generating this five-year implementation timeframe, FSANZ has aimed to strike a balance between the industry operating in the current challenging COVID-19 business environment, and the need to implement the PEAL changes in a timely and definitive way for food allergic consumers to have confidence when making safe food choices.

For further details, including the PEAL Approval Report and supporting information, go to the FSANZ website.

The Allergen Bureau will be updating all our relevant guidance resources to reflect the requirement for mandatory food allergen declarations to address the anticipated early 2021 gazettal of PEAL. Our updated industry guidance will look to assist food industry on the implementation of PEAL across the upcoming five-year implementation timeframe.