The Importance of Clear and Complete Allergen Information on Product Labels
Posted by : Mercury Labels Ltd on Friday, December 10, 2021 in Printed Labels.
Over the past few years, several wholly avoidable tragedies have highlighted the importance of appropriate product labelling. It is estimated that every year, around 10 people in the UK lose their lives to food induced anaphylaxis reactions.
Given how the prevalence of mild, moderate and severe allergies is on the rise, it has never been more important to provide full and clear allergen information on product labels.
Back in 2018, the tragic death of 15 year old Natasha Ednan brought the issue firmly into the spotlight. A teenager from South-West London died after suffering a fatal reaction to sesame - the presence of which was not made clear on the label of her purchase from Pret a Manger.
Incredibly, it was not a legal requirement at the time for fresh food (i.e. food that is not pre-packaged) to provide a full disclosure of all possible allergens.
Natasha’s death sparked an urgent and long overdue debate as to the dangerous gaps in product labelling regulations at the time. Numerous product manufacturers and food companies subsequently began adding allergen disclosures to their fresh food products, but doing so was not enshrined in law until considerably later.
It is the legal obligation of all food businesses to ensure that every product features clear and complete information on possible allergens. No longer is it acceptable to allow consumers to risk potentially fatal reactions, simply by failing to disclose what a product may contain.
For manufacturers and retailers, this means taking every necessary step to educate and inform customers on what their products may contain. Something that can be simplified with printed product labels, which according to official guidelines should comply with the following:
Text that is comprehensible and clear - This means that the text presented on food allergy labels is presented in a clear and legible font of an appropriate size. The text should be easy enough for the customer to read from an appropriate distance and simplified to an extent that makes it understandable.
Use of an appropriate language - It is also a requirement for the text on the packaging to be printed in a language that is suitable for the intended customer. This means use of the English language for food products sold in the UK, though with the addition of foreign languages for products aimed at different demographics.
Bold lettering for common allergens - In the list of ingredients printed on the product packaging, all common allergens should be featured in bold; it should be obvious at a glance which of the ingredients in the product are associated with allergic reactions.
Additional ‘may contain’ information - Essential in all instances where products may have been exposed to allergens during the production process which are not listed in the ingredients of the product. A warning of the potential for accidental contamination.
If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail or have questions regarding your own product labelling requirements, contact a member of the team at Mercury Labels today.