FSA launches review into ‘may contain’ labelling

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

The FSA has called for views on its new "may contain" labelling system
The FSA has called for views on its new "may contain" labelling system

Related tags Food safety Allergen Labelling

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a review into its new advice for how and when to apply precautionary allergen labelling (PAL), commonly seen as ‘may contain’ warnings on food packaging.

Under the new advice, food businesses need to specify which of the 14 major allergens their PAL refers to – for example, “may contain peanuts” or “may contain tree nuts” as opposed to the generic “may contain nuts” – to ensure compliance.

The consultation is part of a routine review and update of the Allergen Labelling Technical Guidance and is seeking comments and feedback from stakeholders on how existing policies are expressed as part of the FSA’s proposed updates.

Consumer safety and choice

The FSA is recommending that PAL only be applied following a risk assessment, to ensure consumer safety and choice are not unnecessarily affected.

Views are also being sought on new guidance that PAL should not be applied for the same allergen that products are also claiming to be “free-from”. For example, a product labelled “dairy free” should not be labelled with a “may contain milk” statement.

Ben Rayner, FSA food hypersensitivity team leader, said: “While the use of PAL is voluntary, it is important that it should be as accurate and helpful to consumers as possible when it is applied.

Provision of allergy information

“This new guidance will help ensure businesses and those living with food allergies and intolerances get the greatest possible benefit from PAL. We are committed to improving the provision of allergy information to consumers, and this is our next step in that process.”

The updated guidance also advised businesses not to use No Gluten Containing Ingredients Statements (NGCIs), such as “this menu has been designed for a non-gluten diet”. The FSA recommended that only the phrases “gluten free” or “low gluten” be used, because NGCIs have been found to mislead consumers.

Anyone wishing to respond to the consultation can do so by visiting the consultation page.​ The consultation closes on Monday 22 May.

Meanwhile, Rob Brown at OKI Europe explored the latest innovations in packaging technology​ to ensure product compliance.

Related topics Food Safety Packaging & Labelling

Related news

Show more

Follow us

Featured Jobs

View more


Food Manufacture Podcast

Listen to the Food Manufacture podcast