Research reveals unreported allergens on packaging as major cause of food withdrawals in UK

9 May 2016 (Last Updated May 9th, 2016 18:30)

Research from commercial law firm EMW has revealed that the number of food and drink products removed from shelves due to unreported allergens on packaging increased by 60% in the UK last year.

Research from commercial law firm EMW has revealed that the number of food and drink products removed from shelves due to unreported allergens on packaging increased by 60% in the UK last year.

According to the company, the increase is due to growing pressure on food manufacturers to conform to rigorous European Union (EU) food reporting standards.

Last year, 96 products were withdrawn due to unlisted allergens on packaging, registering an increase from the 60 withdrawals in 2014.

The EU legislation, which came into force in December 2014, has strengthened allergen labelling requirements in pre-packaged products.

The new regulation states that allergens must be emphasised in the ingredients list.

Prior to the new legislation, manufacturers carrying out product risk assessments for allergens may have considered the amount of allergens in a product so small that the risk was negligible.

"The recent and seemingly heavy-handed crackdown on food manufacturers regarding allergen labelling has undoubtedly put a massive strain on the industry."

However, retailers and supermarkets that are concerned about contravening EU laws are removing an increasing number of products from shelves.

EMW consultant Sebastian Calnan said: "Public scrutiny on food manufacturing has intensified greatly in recent years, often with good reason.

"However, the recent and seemingly heavy-handed crackdown on food manufacturers regarding allergen labelling has undoubtedly put a massive strain on the industry.

"With a large upswing in the number of food items being removed, food producers have to be extremely aware of the tough EU criteria to ensure they do not fall foul of the legislation and suffer from any subsequent losses to revenue."

"Businesses increasingly have to put contingency strategies in place to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to allergen withdrawals, which in addition to the direct costs, can be extremely expensive and burdensome."