Undeclared Allergens: The Ongoing Threat and How to Eliminate It
How to remove human error from allergen labelling

With the introduction of Natasha’s Law after the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, her family, the regulators, consumers, and food businesses may have hoped that there would be no more undeclared allergens on the shelf. However, it seems that issues with allergens are still making an appearance - one that could be life-threatening.

Read on to discover how to protect your consumers, your brand reputation, and keep your business compliant.

Allergen labelling misfires

In a recent article in The Grocer, they cite two alerts for undeclared allergens in supermarkets, issued by the FSA at the start of the year. One is for a dark chocolate peanut mousse (containing undeclared peanuts and milk), while the other is a chicken Pad Thai with Noodles & Veggies (with undeclared peanuts). These cases are deeply concerning as both products contain “peanuts” as a central ingredient, with little room for ambiguity. The Food Safety Association data shows 314 allergy alerts were issued (2022 to 2023). That adds up to 15% of total food alerts.

Allergen Labels - no room for error

It’s almost a decade since the introduction of the Food Information Regulation (or FIR), which came into effect in December 2014. Since this time, allergens can be found printed in bold within the ingredients list of all pre-packed products, making it easier for consumers to spot. All food providers by law (including takeaway restaurants, fast food vans, and event caterers) must advise consumers if their food contains any of the following allergens:

  • cereals containing gluten, such as wheat (including spelt and Khorasan wheat)
  • rye, barley, and oats
  • crustaceans, for example, prawns, crabs, lobster, crayfish
  • eggs
  • fish
  • peanuts
  • soybeans
  • milk (including lactose)
  • nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, pecan nuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts and
  • macadamia or Queensland nuts)
  • celery (including celeriac)
  • mustard
  • sesame seeds
  • sulphur dioxide or sulphites, if they are more than 10 milligrams per kilogram or
  • 10 milligrams per litre in the finished product
  • lupin, including lupin seeds and flour
  • molluscs, for example, mussels, oysters, snails, and squid
  • Natasha’s Law came into effect in the UK to offer further protection for consumers with food allergies. If you offer food or drink pre-packaged for direct sale (PPDS), then you need to include full ingredient declarations on the pack with allergens highlighted in bold.

    How to avoid labelling errors

    But consumers with allergies still do not have sufficient faith in correct allergen labelling. A survey of 5,000 by Allergen UK discovered 82% of adults are worried about buying pre-made food in case it contains unknown allergens and 47% have had a reaction after eating incorrectly labelled food.

    It’s daunting for businesses to update their processes to meet allergen labelling laws. Food businesses of all sizes need an allergen labelling app to help them streamline compliance.

    That’s where the cost-effective LabelLogic Live comes in. It’s quick, easy to use, and future-proof - being compliant with both current and future labelling laws. Users can create compliant food labels online and print them on a regular printer, which can then be presented on the front and back of the pack. Importantly, you can add nutritional data including the full ingredients declaration and allergens in bold for thousands of branded items - at the touch of a button.

    With LabelLogic Live, our customers have control. For instance, Lauren of the Hawkhurst Bread Shed sets permissions with varying levels of access for her team to help minimise any room for human error. In November 2022, we estimated that 1 in 5 businesses were still not prepared for Natasha’s Law - with the perception that compliance would be too costly. In fact, LabelLogic Live helped the Hawkhurst Bread Shed not only meet allergen regulations but also boost business, speeding up processes and freeing up time for business development.

    Lauren told us: “We have thrived since Natasha’s Law because we got on top of it. Some other businesses stopped when it was introduced. But we smashed it.”

    There’s a lot at stake here. With allergen labelling errors potentially putting your business foul of the law, inflicting reputational damage - or more tragically causing illness or death, no one can afford to get this wrong.

    Find out more about LabelLogic Live.

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