By Allergen Bureau

UK Food Standards Agency seeks views on precautionary allergen labelling

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a consultation to gather views from businesses and consumers on the use of voluntary precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) on food packaging, also known as “may contain” statements.

Recent studies, including those conducted by the FSA, have found that people who live with food allergies, intolerances or coeliac disease appreciate PAL when it clearly tells them about an unavoidable risk of allergen cross-contamination. But consumers can also be confused by the range of PALs on prepacked foods where the wording can differ between products, and the level of risk may not be clear.

Most food businesses are using these labels to try to protect consumers but are reportedly confused about when and how they need to do so. There is evidence that businesses need clarity on the measures they need to take to control the risk of allergen cross-contamination, which then informs their labelling decision.

The PAL consultation opened on 6 December and runs until 14 March 2022. The FSA will also be gathering the opinions of businesses, local authority food teams responsible for enforcing the law, industry bodies and consumers through a series of in-depth workshops.

More information is available here: Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL): The ‘may contain’ Consultation.