Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has just advised that the Australia New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) has approved Proposal P1044 – Plain English Allergen Labelling (PEAL). The changes approved should appear in the Food Standards Code in the next few weeks. However, there will be a transition period of two to three years for all manufacturers to update their labelling.
Previous work by FSANZ, in consultation with stakeholders including Allergy New Zealand, identified issues that contributed to unclear and inconsistent allergen declarations. It was found these could create difficulties for food allergic consumers (and their caregivers) in making safe food choices, increasing the risk of a consumer having a potentially fatal reaction (anaphylaxis) to an undeclared allergen. It was also found the lack of explicit requirements on how to declare allergens, also creates compliance uncertainty for the industry, and for regulators in enforcing the Code.
Several rounds of discussion, consultation, scientific and clinical evaluations and submissions were held from 2017 to 2020 to develop and agree on the changes proposed to the Ministerial Forum.
The Code will now be amended to require the following:
- Using bold type that provides a distinct contrast with any other text to make declarations easier to identify from surrounding information.
- In a size of type no less than that used for other text.
- With the use of the required name ‘gluten’ in the summary statement if the allergen is wheat, barley, rye, oats or their hybrids.
Allergy New Zealand will continue working with FSANZ and New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries to develop and promote consumer information about these changes, and monitor their implementation.