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Allergen Labelling - Everything Businesses Need to Know

European legal requirement to identify 14 specified food allergens when they are used in the production or preparation of both packaged and non-packaged foods.
16th Nov 2015

What do you need to do and why?

The Food Information for Consumers (FIC) Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 came into force on December 13th 2014. This legislation makes it a legal requirement to identify in written format 14 specified food allergens when they are used in the production or preparation of both packaged and non-packaged foods.

Pre-packaged food means any single item offered to the final consumer or mass caterers, consisting of a food packaged before being offered for sale, whether such packaging encloses the food completely or only partially, but in any event in such a way that the contents cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging. 

Non-prepacked’ food applies to food that is sold directly to consumers (cafes, restaurants and take away) or mass caterers including food that is provided free of charge (samples / tasters etc.). 

What does this mean for your food business?

If you sell food, you are required to adapt your processes so that you can identify and trace these 14 food allergens from point of entry to your business to the point of supply, and inform consumers in writing of their presence in related dishes. To do this it is important to ensure that brand specific allergen information is available from your supplier before using their products in your business.
If you supply pre-packaged food you will need to analyse your recipes and provide a nutrition declaration on your product. This applies to foods/ingredients made at one site for use at other sites within your business. 

Displaying the allergen information of your recipes might seem daunting at first - we get it, which is why we are determined to make calculating accurate allergen values for your dishes as quick and easy as possible. Simply input your recipe and the software automatically does the calculations for you! Why not sign up for your 7-day free trial now and see how easy it really is?

Get started now!

What are the allergens that require labelling?

There are 14 allergens that must be declared by law are:

  • Cereals containing gluten - wheat (such as spelt and khorasan wheat), rye, barley, oats
    Note: The cereal name e.g 'wheat', must be declared and highlighted, not 'gluten'
  • Crustaceans e.g. crabs, prawns, lobsters
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Milk
  • Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macademia/Quensland nut)
    Note: The name of the nut, e.g. 'almond', must be declared and highlighted, not 'nuts'
  • Celery
  • Mustard
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sulphur Dioxide and sulphites (at concentrations of more than 10mg/kg or 10mg/L in terms of total sulphur dioxide) – used as a preservative
  • Lupin Molluscs e.g. mussels, oysters, squid, snails

What are the exceptions for allergen declarations?

Contaminants: The allergens listed for your dishes should only refer to the ingredients purposely used to make the dish. If the allergen is present through accidental exposure (cross contamination) and not an ingredient then there is no allergen declaration required. 

Top Tip
It is good practice for busy kitchens to advise customers about the allergenic ingredients used on site. When catering for an allergic customer ensure that good handling practices are implemented to ensure cross contamination is avoided. While cross contamination does not necessitate allergen declaration, free from claims such as ‘gluten free’ are regulated separately, and require specific strict manufacturing practices. 

Allergen is in the food name: Where the allergen is explicit in the name E.g. “Egg Mayonnaise” There is no need to declare this allergen (Egg). However! be careful that the composite food doesn’t contain any other allergen that is not explicit in the name E.g. mustard in the mayonnaise, as this must be declared. 

Fully Refined Soybean Oil: No allergen declaration is required for highly refined soybean oil, as the allergen is removed by processing. Other specific exemptions are listed by category in the annex of FIC, check out the full list here. 

How to present the allergen information?

The allergens must be declared in written format either at the point of presentation, point of sale or point of supply for all foods and drinks sold loose/fresh or pre-packed. The precise layout and style can vary, but it must be legible and easily understood by the consumer i.e. number coding, plain text and symbols can be used to display allergens so long as it is easily understood.

The allergen information must be at an easily identified and accessible location on the premises. It can be provided either as a hard copy or electronically, and can either be in general view or permanently available. Where the location of allergen information is not conspicuous, it must be clearly signposted, so that consumers can locate and access it easily. Essentially the consumer should not have to ask where the allergen list / menu is, it should be easily accessible without asking any staff member.

What NOT to do when it comes to allergen labelling

  1. A general statement saying that all foods may contain a specific allergen can not be used, the allergen information must be specific to your individual recipes and ingredients.
  2. Likewise, a general statement saying ask your server if you have any food allergy can not be used. The food allergen information must be readily available in written format, and should be easily accessible by consumers without asking any staff member.
  3. No food allergen declaration is required when the name of the food informs the customer that it consists of or contains a food allergen, e.g. smoked cod, peanut butter etc.
  4. No Allergen declaration is required if the ingredient is highly processes and therefore the allergen has been removed and is now considered safe (e.g. soya oil). 

 How can we help with your allergen declaration?

Step 1 - Simply create your own recipes using our extensive database of over 800,000 foods from international databases (including America, Australia, and UK to name a few) or use your own supplier data

Step 2 - That’s it! Nutritics automatically calculates a full nutrient profile including allergens for your recipe based on the ingredients, quantities and cooking methods used. It’s that simple! Why not try it now?

What’s more, Nutritics will also provide you with suggestions on how to improve the nutritional profile of your recipes and products, making it easier for you to provide your customers with the healthier options they desire. 

Other ways Nutritics can support you and your business:

  • Use Nutritics for recipe management 
  • Share recipes to various sites
  • Maintain ingredient traceability 
  • Instantly update recipes for all sites – no more emailing spreadsheets back and forth! 
  • Digitally display information to your customers using tablets 
  • Export information to print for your allergens folder or menus 
  • Generate compliant food labels & nutrition declarations for your products 

Nutritics provides flexible plan options so there is something to suit every business no matter how big or small. Our software is simple to use and we have a wide range of training resources and a dedicated support team to help get you up and running. 

Why not sign up for a free trial today to see how easy it is to calculate those allergens? 

Get started now!