Food Law News - UK - 2004

FSA Consultation Letter, 21 June 2004

LABELLING - Consultation on Allergen labelling Regulations (England)

The draft Food Labelling (Amendment) (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2004 and provision of allergen information for foods sold loose (non-pre-packed), pre-packed for direct sale and fancy confectionery products Responses are requested by: 13 September 2004

Consultation details


New European ingredient listing rules (Directive 2003/89/EC) amending Directive 2000/13/EC on the indication of ingredients in food, have now been agreed in Brussels. We are required to introduce national measures to implement these provisions by 25 November 2004 and we invite your comments on the draft Regulations, the Food Labelling Amendment (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2004, together with the Guidance Notes and a Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment.
The Regulations would apply to England only. Separate parallel legislation is being prepared in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Under the draft Regulations, foods sold loose (non-pre-packed), foods sold pre-packed for direct sale and certain fancy confectionery products would be exempt from the particulars required by Directive 2003/89/EC, including the requirement to provide allergen information. Foods sold in catering establishments would also be similarly exempt. We are therefore taking this opportunity to seek comments on the appropriate approach to take to ensure that, in these cases, consumers obtain sufficient information (a requirement on Member States by Article 14 of Directive 2000/13/EC).

New ingredient listing rules in the Food Labelling Amendment (No. 2) (England) Regulations 2004

The draft Regulations implement new European Union (EU) legislation (Directive 2003/89/EC) deleting the 25% compound ingredient listing exemption and replacing it with the following derogations, which do not apply to a list of specified allergens (see below):

The draft Regulations also introduce a specified list of allergens (Schedule to the draft Regulations). Prepacked foods (including alcoholic drinks) made using these allergens or their derivatives must declare the relevant ingredient and for derivatives, make a clear reference to the source allergen.

The list of allergens comprises cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soybeans, milk, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seeds and sulphur dioxide and sulphites at more than 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre, and may be revised by the European Commission as and when the scientific data becomes available. This provision applies to all added ingredients used in the production of foodstuffs.

The new rules provide for derivatives of the specified allergens, that are no longer allergenic, to be exempted by future Community action from the requirements set out above on the basis of scientific evidence demonstrating their lack of allergenicity.

Food in small packages and certain reusable glass bottles

Food in small packages and certain indelibly marked bottles, are excluded from the scope of the new labelling requirements in Directive 2003/89/EC, which has the same scope as Directive 2000/13/EC. Restricting the scope of the rules to that of Directive 2000/13/EC would mean that in such cases, food products would not need to comply with the new requirements.

In order to ensure that consumers receive adequate information under these circumstances, we are proposing that these food products be labelled with the same particulars as are required by Directive 2003/89/EC, and that this should be the case both for products originating in the UK and those from other Member States. This is the effect of regulation 26 of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (as amended) as read with regulation 4 of the draft Regulations.

Flour confectionery packed in crimp case only or in wholly transparent packaging

Flour confectionery products packed in crimp cases or in wholly transparent packaging are currently exempt in certain circumstances from most of the labelling requirements in the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (regulation 23(1)(b), This exemption is an under-implementation of EU food labelling rules for which there is no legal basis.

We are therefore proposing to rectify this earlier under-implementation by deleting this exemption. We understand that very few products currently take advantage of this exemption. However, we would welcome information on products that would be affected and the potential impact that this proposed change would have.

Foods sold loose, pre-packed for direct sale and certain fancy confectionery products

Article 14 of Directive 2000/13/EC allows Member States not to apply EC labelling rules in the case of food sold loose or prepacked for direct sale so long as the consumer receives sufficient information. Article 15 allows Member States to impose less stringent rules for the labelling of certain fancy confectionery products. These foods are currently exempt from most labelling requirements in the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (as amended).

A significant proportion of food allergy incidents, including deaths, can be traced to foods sold loose or foods sold pre-packed for direct sale e.g. in catering establishments. We are therefore considering whether further action is needed to ensure or encourage the provision of information on allergens in foods sold loose, pre-packed for direct sale and fancy confectionery products.

We would be interested in your views as follows:

Your response to these preliminary questions will be helpful in informing our future policy. We will be consulting further based on the responses to this consultation and any proposal for action will be supported by a regulatory impact assessment.

(Copies of the proposed controls can currently be found on the FSA web site)

To go to main Foodlaw-Reading Index page, click here.