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Food: Allergies

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will bring forward proposals for the regulation of (a) the recording and (b) advice on the use of food allergens by commercial organisations. (186635)

[holding answer 18 February 2008]: Food allergens are safe food ingredients for the vast majority of people, although approximately 2 per cent. of the United Kingdom’s adult population need to avoid certain foods because they may trigger an allergic reaction. All ingredients deliberately added to a pre-packed food already have to be declared on the label. Furthermore, existing food allergen labelling rules ensure that, despite any other food labelling exemptions, the 14 allergenic food ingredients of greatest public health concern across the European Community must always be declared on the label of pre-packed foods.

The Food Standards Agency has recently issued two best practice guidance documents for food businesses. The “Guidance on Allergen Management and Consumer Information” is aimed at producers of pre-packed foods to help them eliminate the possible cross-contamination of allergenic ingredients and to decide on appropriate warning labels if this should be unavoidable. “The Provision of Allergen Information for Non Pre-packed Foods” is intended to help those businesses providing food in restaurants, sandwich bars, delicatessens etc where the food is not pre-packed and it is essential to communicate the presence of any allergenic ingredients in the food, where the customer needs this information. These guidance documents were produced with the help of relevant interested parties (food manufacturers, food retailers, enforcement bodies and consumer organisations).