Allergens 101 – A guide for F&B Brands

4 Steps to Comply with Labelling Standards

Determine which countries the product is destined to be sold in.

This will allow you to focus on the knowledge you'll need to make your labels.

Assess if the products can be accepted and sold in the given country.

Ensure your product can be sold in each planned country.

Evaluate the regulations of each country.

Determine which components are required and confirm any potential cross-national compatibilities.

Establish if labelling needs to be adapted in the selling country.

Once you understand what is required in each country and where those regulations overlap, you can evaluate what changes to your labelling are necessary.

Food allergens, also known as immune-mediated food hypersensitivity, are becoming a major public and personal health concern around the world. Every country has a different standard in declaring allergens, testing methods, and product ingredient labelling. Accurate labelling is an integral part of a product safety sohort, as most recalls are due to labelling errors. Therefore, by ensuring that labels are correct it saves both time and a financial burden. Accurate and transparent labelling also aids in the development of consumer trust and Brand loyalty. 

Currently there is no universal standard for reporting allergens and respective labelling. For this reason it is necessary for manufacturers to ensure that their labelling and certification meets each individual standard within the country their product will be sold. 

To help mitigate this issue, general food labelling standards have been produced by an international committee known as ‘Codex Alimentarius’. It acsts as a general guide and database for suppliers and is optional. Countries apply them in different ways depending on national requirements and interpretation. It is for this reason that necessary steps are needed to be taken to understand allergen control in each country.

Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC)

The Codex Alimentarius is a standardised collection of internationally-approved food standards and related literature. These food standards and related literature attempt to protect customers’ health while also assuring fair food trade procedures. The Codex Alimentarius was published to help guide and support the development and implementation of food definitions and regulations in order to aid in their harmonisation and, as a result, to facilitate international trade.

Codex standards and related documents offer food requirements aimed at providing consumers with a safe, wholesome food product that is free of adulteration and is properly labelled and presented. A Codex standard for any food or foods should be written in the Format for Codex Commodity Standards and include the parts indicated there, where appropriate.

Preventing Supplier-Induced Undeclared Allergens

A reputable supplier should be willing to provide a letter of continuing guarantee, a certificate of analysis (COA), so verification and analysis for the allergen control section on the supplier’s certification audit should be noted. This can include tasks such as transportation of two allergens in the same shipping with separate deliveries, colour coding products during shipment or storage, and laboratory analysis of the allergen and its parameters in each facility and country.

Record-keeping is essential to any supplier management programme, and can help better organise the hazards associated with allergen identification during the buying process. Ensure that labelling is accurate and relevant to the country in which it is being sold, and that processing facilities follow good manufacturing processes, and have documentation to prove a rigid sanitation program to avoid cross-contamination.

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