UK government proposes strict labeling regulations on food allergies

UK – The UK government has proposed new regulations to strengthen labeling laws on food allergies to provide more information and protect consumers from suffering and deaths related to allergens.

British Environment Secretary Michael Gove has launched a consultation that looks to update the food allergen labelling rules for foods which are prepacked for direct sale.

This is geared towards offering a more transparent packaging criteria in a way to protect consumers in the UK, where two million people suffers from food allergy.

The consultation seeks to impose stricter food packaging and labelling rules, to promote confidence when buying the products.

Stricter rules

The government is determined to ensure that consumers make the best decisions when purchasing their food.

“We want to ensure that labels are clearer and that the rules for businesses are more consistent, so that allergy sufferers in this country can have confidence in the safety of their food,” said Gove.

Current laws don’t require food prepared on the premise where it is sold to display allergen information on the pack.

Food businesses preparing their products freshly on site are exempted from the obligation of labeling them with a list of ingredients as dictated by the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No. 1169 /2011.

The proposed regulations require food business to provide information on allergens for food prepared on the site if asked by consumers.

In October, the UK’s Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST) called for a review of allergen labeling legislation in the wake of the tragic death of a teenage girl on-board a flight after eating a Pret a Manger baguette containing sesame.

15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, from London, died in July 2016 from anaphylaxis caused by sesame after eating an artichoke and olive tapenade baguette, bought at Pret a Manger at Heathrow Airport.

Consultation description

The consultation is seeking thoughts on the following options:
*Promote best practice (no change in law)
*Add “ask the staff” stickers to packaging, staff would have to provide information orally and in writing if asked
*Label food with the name of the food and list allergens
*Label food with name of food, full ingredients list and with allergens emphasized

Speaking on the development, Food Standards Agency (FSA) Chairman Heather Hancock said: “It’s essential for those of us with a food allergy or intolerance to know that we can trust the food we eat.

Accurate and reliable labeling is vital and this consultation is firmly aimed at improving the confidence we have in it.”

“In recent years’ choice, trust and availability have improved for people with food allergy.

We want those improvements to continue, so it’s important that we hear from everyone affected, as part of this consultation.

We’re determined to keep on making life better for you.”

The move was welcome by the Anaphylaxis Campaign organisation which said with the new regulations, consumers will be able to make informed decisions.

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