UK firm Tastetech has launched a range of 'nut-free' nut flavourings for inclusion in a raft of food applications, including humous, curries and baked goods.
"Our new nut-free flavourings are authentic and can be added to a range of products to flavour and enhance. This is especially important for those allergic to nuts," said Roger Sinton, managing director of TasteTech.
The flavouring range is delivered through controlled release microencapsulation, a process where the individual nut flavourings are encased in an invisible, taste-free film of vegetable oil. These are then programmed for release by the manufacturer, during processing, cooking or eating.
Welcomed by allergy associations, last year Europe confronted the food industry with new rules - to enter into force in November 2004 - on food allergen ingredients when Brussels cleared Directive 2003/89/EC, amending Directive 2000/13. Food manufacturers will have to list all sub-ingredients of compound ingredients, which means that allergens cannot be 'hidden', heralding an end to the 20 year old 25 per cent rule with all ingredients labelled, regardless of the quantity contained in the finished food.
"We are very pleased with the new rules," Susanna Palkonen of the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients' Associations told FoodNavigator.com. Lobbying the Commission hard for the changes, the allergy alliance sees the amendments as a victory but remains concerned about the 'may contain' issue.
"Our concern is that 'may contain' is not regulated. In the case of accidental contamination the consumer has no idea of knowing if there is a risk to eating the food product or not,". The alliance is pushing the Commission to strengthen the legislation and to formulate specified thresholds for food allergens on food labels.
Providing justification for the new directive, a recent panel at the European Food Safety Authority claimed there is ample evidence to justify the mandatory inclusion on food labels of the most common food allergen ingredients and their derivatives: cereals containing gluten, fish, crustaceans, egg, peanut, soy, milk and dairy products including lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seed, and sulphites.
According to the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients' Associations, an estimated 4 per cent of adults and 8 per cent of children in the European Union - the world total amounting to over 380 million - suffer from food allergies.