There are both criminal and civil legal regimes that are relevant to the sale of foods containing allergens and the provision of ‘allergen-free’ lists. It is essential that these are given careful consideration.
The following is a brief outline of the main provisions to assist manufacturers in identifying their legal obligations. It also suggests the appropriate courses of action in respect of good manufacturing practice and the provision of information for consumers.
Manufacturers should seek their own legal advice as appropriate.
The current labelling rules introduced by European Directive 2000/13/EC on food labelling and as amended by Directives 2003/89/EC and 2007/68/EC ensure that all consumers are given information about the use of allergenic ingredients. This is to make it easier for people with food allergies to identify the foods they need to avoid. From 13 December 2014 the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) will change the way allergen information appears on labels and on food that is prepacked, sold loose or served when eating out. The EU FIC will bring general and nutrition labelling together into a single regulation to simplify and consolidate existing labelling legislation into a single framework. Some changes to labelling may be already appearing as businesses prepare for the change over to the new rules.
The new regulation builds on the current allergen labelling provisions for prepacked foods. It will introduce a new requirement for allergen information to be provided for foods sold non-prepacked or prepacked for direct sale.