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Food: Allergies

Volume 472: debated on Thursday 21 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will revise the guidance given in the Food Standards Agency publication, “The Provision of Allergen Information for Non-Pre-Packed Foods”, to extend the distribution of such information beyond those consumers who request it. (185980)

The guidance on the provision of allergen information in foods sold non-prepacked was introduced because eating out is recognised to be a high-risk situation for allergic consumers. The aim of the guidance is to increase awareness of food allergy issues in food businesses so that, should they be asked, they can provide accurate information on the allergens in the foods they sell, both deliberate ingredients and from the potential for accidental cross-contamination. By raising awareness of allergy issues it is hoped that businesses, such as caterers, will be able to provide this information pro-actively to customers.

The guidance was issued as best practice to reflect the practical issues, raised during the public consultation, for small businesses in this part of the food sector in providing this information on a statutory basis. The European Union has recently issued a proposal on food labelling following a review of the existing legislation, that includes strengthening the requirements to provide allergen information in this sector. There will be a full public consultation on this proposal prior to negotiations.