Supported by the Gluten Free Industry Association, Coeliac UK, Anaphylaxis Campaign and the British Retail Consortium, the guidance has been developed to illustrate examples of different labelling situations of foods containing gluten, with a particular focus on oats and wheat species.
Food Standards Agency chairman Heather Hancock welcomed the launch of the new guidance and the FDF’s work to achieve greater consistency in how the presence of cereals containing gluten and gluten-free claims were labelled on prepacked foods.
“Having a trusted, consistent approach will make it easier for people with coeliac disease or with allergies to these cereals to find and understand the labelling information they need,” said Hancock.
“That means they can make safer food choices. I am very pleased to see further progress in this important area of public health and consumer protection.”
The guidance also provides information about the distinction between coeliac disease and cereal allergy, advice on precautionary allergen labelling and a flow diagram for making gluten absence claims. Also included is an overview of relevant EU and UK legislation and guidance.
Norma McGough, director of policy, research and campaigns at Coeliac UK, said: “By distinguishing the presence of allergens with the absence of gluten in foods, the guidance helps highlight the important distinction between an allergy to cereals and coeliac disease.
“We also welcome approaches to limit use of precautionary statements relating to the presence of cereals containing gluten in prepacked products.”
FDF food law, labelling and enforcement manager Alex Turtle stressed the importance of the guidance and urged food and drink manufacturers to provide legally compliant labels that presented consistent allergen information.
“FDF is committed to providing best-practice regulatory guidance and we hope that this updated, more comprehensive guidance continues to support food manufacturers, of all sizes, to make informed labelling declarations regarding their products,” Turtle added.
Meanwhile, the former boss of food waste charity The Felix Project will become the new head of Coeliac UK on 3 June.