The UK Government’s food safety regulator, Food Standards Agency (FSA), has published updates to food allergen labelling and information technical guidance.

The technical guidance is designed to help food businesses follow allergen labelling requirements, without compromising consumers safety.

It suggests several changes on how food businesses should use Precautionary Allergen Label (PAL).

The new FSA’s best practice technical guidance advises food businesses to apply a PAL only when the risk of allergen cross-contamination is unavoidable and cannot be sufficiently controlled by segregation and cleaning.

It also recommends businesses to indicate the PAL refers to which major allergen.

FSA’s also calls for usage of PAL statements alongside ‘vegan’ label when there is risk of cross-contamination with an allergen.

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FSA policy deputy director Natasha Smith said: “While the use of PAL is voluntary, it is important that it should be as accurate and helpful to consumers as possible when it is applied. The updates to this guidance will help businesses to effectively manage allergens, and ensure those living with food allergies and intolerances get the greatest possible benefit from PAL.

“The guidance also helps make clear the distinction between a ‘vegan’ claim, and a ‘free from’ claim. A ‘free-from’ allergen claim should guarantee that the specified allergen is absent and to use it a food business must have implemented strict controls to eliminate any risk of cross-contamination. 

“A vegan claim is not about food safety, and our new guidance highlights that a PAL statement for any or all of molluscs, eggs, fish, milk and crustacea (foods that are both regulated allergens and animal products) can be used to communicate a risk of their unintended presence, where this has been identified by a food business’ risk assessment.”

The update from FSA is in line with the FDF Change Management of Allergen Information guidance.