New rules on allergy advice

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From 13 December, businesses must provide information on allergens used in their food products.

A new European Union regulation means food labels must list any of 14 allergens used as ingredients in a product. Restaurants, cafes and fast food operators must also provide this information for their customers.

Food businesses will have a legal responsibility to provide the correct allergen information about ingredients in the food they make or serve, and these new rules will be enforced by local authorities.

The 14 allergens that need to be identified if they are used as ingredients in a dish are: celery, cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs, mustard, nuts, peanuts, soya, sesame seeds, and sulphur dioxide.

“For people with food allergies, eating certain ingredients can have extremely serious consequences so it’s vital they know exactly what’s in their food,” said Councillor Helen McKenna, Convener of the Environmental Services Committee.

“These new regulations will give consumers more information to help them avoid the ingredients that cause an allergic reaction, whether they’re eating out or at home.

“Our Business Regulation team has provided information and advice to food businesses in North Lanarkshire to help them prepare for the introduction of the regulations. They will then monitor businesses to make sure they comply with the rules.”

The change in the law means it is not enough for food labels just to say the product may contain allergens; they must state specifically which of the 14 allergens are contained in each product.

For more information go to the Food Standards Agency web site at www.food.gov.uk.