EU Food law: EU Commission Notice on Allergen Labelling
On today’s Official Journal, the EU COMMISSION published a NOTICE relating to the provision of information on substances or products causing allergies or intolerances as listed in Annex II to the FIC Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011.
The Notice is intended to assist businesses and national authorities in the application of the requirements of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 related to the allergen indications (Article 9(1), point (c) and Annex II to the Regulation).
The notice provides a number of clarifications on when and how to declare allergens on food labels, both for prepacked foods and for non prepacked foods.
Some of the interesting points are the following.
The notice clarifies the meaning of the terms listed in Annex II:
— ‘Cereals’ as listed in Annex II, point 1 are to be understood as an exhaustive list.
— ‘Egg’ in Annex II, point 3 refers to eggs from all farmed birds.
— ‘Milk’ in Annex II, point 7 refers to milk from the mammary gland of farmed animals.
— ‘Nuts’ as listed in Annex II, point 8 are to be understood as an exhaustive list.
— Annex II lists not only substances and products mentioned as such therein but also products thereof. In the case where microorganisms have been fed on a substrate which is a food ingredient included in Annex II, those microorganisms should not be considered as products derived from these substrates.
The notice explains the practical interpretation the provision of art. 21(1): ‘Where several ingredients or processing aids of a food originate from a single substance or product listed in Annex II, the labelling shall make it clear for each ingredient or processing aid concerned.’ It states that for the purpose of this requirement, the reference to the substance(s) or product(s) listed in Annex II must not necessarily be repeated as many times as these substances are present. Any presentation making clear that different ingredients originate from a single substance or product included in Annex II, would fulfil the requirement and would be acceptable. The reference must, however, always be directly linked to the list of ingredients, e.g. by placing the referred information at the end of the list of ingredients or in close proximity to the list of ingredients.
Furthermore, the notice clearly states that the voluntary repetition of the allergen information outside the list of ingredients is not possible, as it is not possible to use the word ‘contains’ followed by the name of the substance or products listed in Annex II; or to use symbols or text boxes.