The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Food Standards Agency (FSA) have today launched a nine-week consultation on four options, ranging from the promotion of best practice with no change in the law to the full labelling of products.
The proposed reforms will specifically address labelling requirements for foods that are packed on the same premises from which they are sold. At present, these foods are not required to carry labels, and information on allergens can be given in person by the food business if asked by the consumer.
The consultation will invite food businesses and allergy sufferers to have their say on four options put forward to improve the way allergy information is provided for these foods, including: mandating full ingredient list labelling, mandating allergen-only labelling on food packaging, mandating ‘ask the staff’ labels on all products, with supporting information for consumers available in writing, promoting best practice around communicating allergen information to consumers.
The moves follow the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who died following suffering an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette.
Environment secretary, Michael Gove, said: “We want to ensure that labels are clearer and that the rules for businesses are more consistent – so that allergy sufferers in this country can have confidence in the safety of their food.
“Many businesses are already bringing changes on board independently, and in the meantime they should continue doing all they can to give consumers the information they need.”
Heather Hancock, Food Standards Agency chairman, added: “It’s essential for those of us with a food allergy or intolerance to know that we can trust the food we eat. Accurate and reliable labelling is vital, and this consultation is firmly aimed at improving the confidence we have in it.
“In recent years choice, trust and availability has really improved for people with food allergy. We want those improvements to continue, so it’s important that we hear from everyone affected, as part of this consultation. We’re determined to keep on making life better for you.”
The consultation ends on 29 March and can be responded to on Defra’s gov.uk page.