New requirements for labelling of allergens on packaged foods

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code has been amended to introduce new requirements for the labelling of allergens in food.

The changes will make allergen information on food labels clearer and more consistent for consumers by requiring simple, plain English allergen declarations in a specific format and location on food labels.

The key features of the new format and location requirements are that:

  • Allergens must be shown in a summary statement, in addition to in the statement of ingredients.
  • The summary statement must be located in the same field of view as the statement of ingredients and directly next to it. The summary must also be distinctly separate from the statement of ingredients.
  • Allergens must be printed in a bold font, and when in the statement of ingredients the size of type must not be less than the size of type of the other text indicating ingredients. When in the summary statement the typeface, size of print and the bold font must be the same as in the statement of ingredients.

Businesses have a 3 year transition period to comply with the new requirements. During the transition period food businesses can comply with either the existing allergen declaration requirements in the Code, or the new requirements.

Any food packaged and labelled before the end of the transition period, under existing allergen declaration requirements, may be sold for up to 2 years after the end of the transition period.

CFA’s representative on the Australia New Zealand Food Standards’ Consumer and Public Health Dialogue, Ian Jarratt says:

“Millions of consumers are affected by food allergies, so these changes are very welcome and will be very beneficial for these consumers. They will also help other consumers to make informed food choices.”

“It is particularly pleasing that the changes recognise that:

  • To be effective, written information provided for use by consumers needs to be: easy to understand; easy to notice and read; and consistently located and displayed.
  • Relying only on the Code’s general legibility requirements would not have resulted in the consistent provision of the high levels of legibility and prominence needed to achieve the required consumer outcomes.”

More information about the changes is available here.

Ian Jarratt, CFA’s representative on the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand’s Consumer and Public Health Dialogue.