FSA News Item, 24 November 2005
New food labelling rules should make it easier for people with a food allergy or intolerance to choose foods that are suitable for them.
From 25 November 2005, the new rules, introduced by EC Directive 89/2003, will require pre-packed foods sold in the UK and the rest of the European Union to show clearly on the label if they contain any of 12 listed allergenic foods as an ingredient.
The new regulations also remove the current ‘25% rule’, which meant that the ingredients of a compound ingredient (for example, a sausage used as a topping for a pizza or a sponge finger used in a trifle) did not have to be declared if the compound ingredient made up less than 25% of the final food. Under the new rules, all ingredients will have to be listed on the label, even if they are part of a compound ingredient, or present in just tiny amounts.
The new rules apply to foods labelled on or after 25 November, so shoppers should bear in mind that there will still be some products on the shelves that were labelled before these rules were introduced.
The 12 foods listed in the new rules are: peanuts; nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts); eggs; milk; crustaceans (including prawns, crabs and lobsters); fish; sesame seeds; cereals containing gluten (including wheat, rye, barley and oats); soya; celery; mustard; sulphur dioxide and sulphites (preservatives used in some foods and drinks) at levels above 10mg per kg or per litre.
Some ingredients derived from these foods are exempt from the new rules, because they are highly processed and so are no longer able to cause allergic reactions.