New research on allergy information

Author: Food Standard Agency

Date: Sep 2013

Research, published by the FSA, provides insights into the provision of information on food allergens used as ingredients on foods that are not prepacked

The findings from the research will help the FSA to support businesses and consumers with food allergies or intolerances.

Allergenic ingredients to be listed

Under the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) (No.1169/2011), allergen information will have to be provided on all foods containing any of the 14 allergens as ingredients (whether sold prepacked or not). The new rules will apply from 13 December 2014.

The allergenic ingredients are:

  • peanuts
  • nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut, cashew, pecan, Brazil, pistachio, macadamia and
    Queensland nut)
  • fish
  • eggs
  • crustaceans
  • sesame seeds
  • milk
  • soybeans
  • celery
  • mustard
  • lupin
  • molluscs
  • cereals containing gluten (for example, wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt and kamut)
    sulphur dioxide and sulphites (>10mg/litre)

The results provide a baseline measurement of information on current practices and help to establish what support businesses may require to help them meet their obligations under the new regulation.

The survey will be repeated in 2015/2016 to establish how practices have changed once the new allergen rules have been applied.

Details of the study

The study was carried out by the Policy Studies Institute and IFF Research. It involved telephone surveys of 1,666 UK food businesses and follow-up in-depth telephone interviews with a subset of 25 food businesses selling foods that had not been prepacked (for example, foods sold in restaurants, sandwich shops, hotels, bakers, delicatessens, contract caterers).

The study found that:

  • 20% of the food businesses were aware of the new EU FIC allergen requirements
  • 60% of food businesses approached already had a policy on the provision of allergen information

Formal policies were more common among restaurant chains, large businesses and institutions. Businesses were more likely to provide allergen information on nuts and gluten.

  • 20% of all surveyed businesses only provided information verbally
  • 64% provided information both verbally and in writing
  • 6% provided written information
  • 7% did not provide any allergen information whatsoever

Supporting businesses

The FSA is currently undertaking some follow-up work with businesses to probe into some of the results.

Focus groups with businesses are being held to identify potential issues that may arise when they try to comply with the new requirements. The FSA will also be looking at the types of tools they can provide to these businesses to help them comply to the new requirements.

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Next review: 13 September 2021