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National guidelines on management and labelling of allergens

Picture from Colourbox.The below guidelines are voluntary recommendations. The British and Australian guidelines are good examples as they are the most comprehensive. Australia is to our knowledge the first country to develop and recommend the use of an allergen risk assessment tool to harmonise the application of allergen precautionary labelling.

We do not endorse any of the guidelines but they may help a company in dealing with cross contact allergens.

Country/ Organisation

Title of guideline

Australian Food and Grocery Council.

Food Industry Guide to Allergen Management and labelling”, 2007 revised edition.

The VITAL risk assessment tool

A comprehensive but at the same time relatively short guide (18 pages). The guide contains chapters on food allergy, allergen management, testing and analysis of allergens, and allergen labelling. The recommended approach to control the possibility of allergen contamination is through a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) program. The guide goes through the key areas that food companies need to consider to control allergen risk. These include employee training and supervision, raw material sourcing and storage, production scheduling, equipment and premises design, manufacturing (e.g. cleaning procedures, control of rework), labelling, and post-manufacturing controls. The guide introduces Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling (VITAL). VITAL is a risk-based methodology that food producers can use to apply appropriate allergen precautionary labelling. 

Swedish Food Retailers Federation and Swedish Food Federation.

Swedish Food Sector Guidelines for: Management and labelling of food products with reference to Allergy and Intolerance”, English version, August 2005.

A comprehensive 18 page guide with 6 pages of appendices based on the first Australian guide from 2002. Some chapters in this guide contain more detailed guidance compared to the Australian guide. One of the appendices contains a helpful list with examples of foods and food ingredients that may contain allergens.  

Finnish Food and Drink Industries.

“Labelling warnings of allergen in foodstuff due to cross contamination”, December 2005. For availability (in Finnish) contact Finnish Food and Drink Industries: www.etl.fi.  

In Finnish. This 2-page guide mainly deals with advisory statements and includes a flowchart similar to the one in the Swedish guideline. 

UK/Food Standards Agency

Guidance on allergen management and consumer information”, July 2006.

The most comprehensive national guideline for food producers and retailers (43-pages including appendices). It provides voluntary best practice advice on how to assess the risks of cross-contamination of a food product with an allergenic food or food ingredient and then to determine whether advisory labelling is appropriate. Chapters on background and purpose, new product development and reformulation, manufacturing and communication of allergen information are included. The guide also contains a useful appendix with information on the prevalence, severity, and reaction level of the allergens that have to be labelled in the EU.  It also contains information on the main derivatives of these allergenic foods. Another appendix suggests a step-by-step approach to access the hazard of possible allergen cross-contamination and provide a flowchart similar to the ones in the other national guidelines to determine if advisory labelling is appropriate.  This appendix also contains a description of currently available allergen testing methods without going into specific commercial test-kits.

Federatie Nederlandse Levensmiddelen Industrie (FNLI)

“Guidelines on Additional Labelling Regarding the Potential Presence of Allergens Due to Cross-contamination”, 2005. For availability contact FNLI

In Dutch. This 7-page guideline covers the EU labelling legislation, points to consider in a HACCP analysis, and advisory statements in relation to allergens.

FR/Association Nationale des Industries Alimentaires (ANIA)

“Guide des bonnes pratiques pour la reduction des presences fortuites d´allergenes majeurs”, February 2005. For availability contact ANIA

In French. This 22-page guideline deals with allergen management in the food industry.

Italian food industry association (Federalimentare)

Etichettaturea degli allergeni, linee guida di federalimentare”, March 2005.

In Italian. Allergen labelling guide.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA)

The U.S. labelling legislation, guidelines and reports.

The USFDA has a webpage with information for the food industry and food allergen inspectors.

 “Guidance for Industry: Questions and Answers Regarding Food Allergens…” is guidance for the industry to the food allergen labelling law.

Approaches to Establish Thresholds for Major Food Allergens and for Gluten in Food” is a 108-page report which gives an overview of food allergy and celiac disease with a focus on approaches that could be used to establish thresholds for food allergens.

"Guide to Inspections of Firms Producing Products Susceptible to Contamination with Allergenic Ingredients" is guidance for food allergen inspectors. It goes through potential problems in relation to allergens in product development, receiving, equipment, processing, final product testing, and labelling.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Allergen check list for food suppliers and manufacturers.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has a webpage with information for the industry as well as consumers. “Tool for managing allergen risk in food products” is an allergen check list that food suppliers and manufacturers can use to manage allergen risk. 

Canadian Food Inspection System Implementation group

Food Retail and Food Services Code”, September 2004.

This 89-page paper provides practical, user-friendly interpretations and guidance for compliance with Canadian legislation for food retail and food service premises. Chapter 3.5.2 contains one paragraph about food allergens and a reference to appendix C. Appendix C  (3 pages) mainly deals with strategies for manufacturers to deal with food allergies.

Food Safety Authority of Ireland

Guide to Food Safety Training”, 2003, 2009.

The “Guide to Food Safety Training” is available at three levels. It covers food safety skills that staff at different levels and managers should know. Level 2 and 3 have included knowledge about food allergens. Each of the guides contains a checklist that can be used to record the training.