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May contain nuts – is it time that this wording changed?

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a consultation to gather views from businesses and consumers on the use of precautionary allergen information and labels, often written as ‘may contain’ on food packaging. Current labelling legislation requires that food products should indicate the presence of any of the 14 main allergens used as an ingredient or processing aid. However, in cases where there is a risk of unintentional allergen cross-contamination (for example where multiple foods are prepared in the same kitchen), and the food business has established the risk cannot be sufficiently controlled, it is best practice for a precautionary allergen label statement to be used to communicate this risk.

The FSA is seeking feedback on the issues faced by interested parties, which will assist it in considering potential approaches for precautionary allergen labelling for prepacked foods and precautionary allergen information for non-prepacked foods sold in England, Northern Ireland and Wales so that the information is:

  • communicated more clearly and consistently
  • in an understandable and meaningful way to consumers, in terms of the form and content of the information
  • based on a proportionate and standardised processes for assessing, managing, and communicating the risk of allergen cross-contamination by food businesses.

The FSA has said it hopes to hear from businesses, local authority food teams, healthcare professionals, allergy charities, consumers and any other interested parties.

WM Comment

The consultation closes on 14 March 2022. Depending on the results of the consultation, we can expect some change to precautionary allergen labelling at some point in the near future and we will keep you updated on any developments.