‘Allergen Safe’ scheme is solution to ‘may contain’ confusion

By Michelle Perrett contact

- Last updated on GMT

A new 'Allergen Safe' labelling scheme is planned for manufacturers
A new 'Allergen Safe' labelling scheme is planned for manufacturers

Related tags: Food standards agency

A new scheme to cut through the confusion of ‘may contain’ labelling is being proposed to help both manufacturers and consumers.

FreeFrom, the organisation that runs the FreeFrom Awards, wants to create a logo that would allow manufacturers to label their products as safe from allergens. The working title of ‘Allergen Safe’ would mean that manufacturers would be able to use this when they proved they met certain guidelines.

Currently, manufacturers may not declare products to be allergen-free and label them with warnings such as ‘may contain nuts’ because they are afraid of the potential liability resulting from accidental allergen presence.

Confused by warnings

The move comes as research of 5,000 of FreeFrom’s newsletter subscribers revealed that 45% of consumers were totally confused by the warnings such as ‘may contain nuts’ and almost half (46%) said that they always paid attention to the warning and never bought such products.

Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, director of the FreeFrom Awards, said the current system was a “total mess”​ and in a state of “complete confusion”.

She admitted it was early days but would be talking to food manufacturers as well as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) about how to implement the system.

Risks

“If a manufacturer has done everything right such that their allergen control is excellent and they have no risk according to the Food Standards Agency guidelines, then they would be able to use the logo,”​ she said.

“The consumer would know that all the tests have been done and the risks are so small they don’t have to worry about it.”

The move came as the BRC and Food and Drink Federation announced new joint guidance on free-from allergen claims aimed at food manufacturers and caterers.

The guidance advises food business operators on the appropriate use of ‘free-from’ claims and provides an overview of the relevant UK and EU legislation.

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2 comments

Allergen free?

Posted by Bob Salmon,

A product may be free from any of the fourteen allergens listed in annex V of the Regulation. That does not mean that it does not contain other ingredients that a few people may react to. Some people are allergic to work as well. Allergen free would be subject to continual legal attacks

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Allergens

Posted by Richard Bradford-Knox,

This sounds like a good move. May contain sounds like a cop out of reponsibility to have,implement and enforce sgegregation controls.However perhaps AA - Allergen Absent or AF Allergen Free might be better desriptions or titles. Allergen safe implies that some allergens safe?

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