The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued technical guidance to help small and medium-sized (SME) businesses comply with new rules on allergen labelling and information, which take effect later this year as part of the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (FIC).
The guidance, and an accompanying infographic, aim to help SMEs understand how the new FIC rules will affect allergen labelling of pre-packed foods and non-pre-packed (loose) foods. It notes that the new rules require food businesses to provide information on the presence of 14 allergens, if added or used as ingredients in food.
The 14 allergens as listed in the EU FIC are: cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, molluscs, eggs, fish, peanuts, nuts, soya, milk, celery, mustard, sesame, lupin and sulphur dioxide (at a level above 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre)
The FSA noted that the new allergen rules under FIC include labelling changes to the current rules for pre-packed foods, adding that these businesses will need to highlight the inclusion of any one of the 14 allergens in the ingredients list.
However, the FSA has also issued guidance on the new requirements for businesses that provide non-prepacked foods - such as restaurants, delis, takeaway businesses, food suppliers and institutional caterers.
"They will need to declare the inclusion of any one of the 14 allergens to customers in a variety of possible ways, such as on menus and chalkboards, clear signposting to where the information can be obtained and through oral communication," said the FSA.
"The allergen information should be accurate, consistent and verifiable upon challenge (for example, when asked by a consumer or a local authority food safety officer)."