Some people have reproducible adverse reactions to certain foods. Collectively referred to as a food hypersensitivity, these include a food allergy, food intolerance, and coeliac disease.

To inform allergic consumers, food allergen labelling is mandatory. Pre-packed food or drink that contains any of the 14 regulated food allergens used as ingredients or processing aids must be declared and emphasised within the ingredients list. Food and drink manufacturers are very aware of the risk to consumers of food allergens, therefore take steps to control unintended allergen presence. Only, after a thorough risk assessment, where there is a demonstrable risk of unintentional presence that cannot be removed through appropriate controls should precautionary allergen labelling be used (e.g. 'may contain').

The FDF supports progress towards agreement of reference doses/thresholds to enable quantitative risk assessment in the management of food allergens.

Updates & milestones

FSA Board & Science Council Working Group 5 on Food Hypersensitivity


The September Food Standards Agency (FSA) Board meeting included the discussion of a paper on the Science Council’s Working Group 5 on Food Hypersensitivity (WG5), which introduced its Interim Report (August 2020) (ASG-046-20). These papers were presented by Dr Paul Turner (Imperial College London) in his role as Chair of WG5, and the following workplan was shared:

  1. Review of the FSA’s existing Food Allergy and Intolerance Research (FAIR) programme.
  2. Priority Setting Exercise for food hypersensitivity research.
  3. A review of existing working practices within the FSA on the broader commissioning and use of research.
  4. Review of the existing evidence underpinning the Top 10 priority areas in food hypersensitivity identified in WG5.2.
  5. Horizon scanning workshop. This will be used to identify future priorities in commissioning research on food hypersensitivity (5-15-year timeframe).

FSA technical guidance on food allergen labelling and information requirements - June 2020

This best practice and regulatory guidance aims to help food businesses follow allergen labelling requirements. It intended to accompany the provisions on food hypersensitivity (i.e. allergies, intolerances and sensitivities) of the Food Information Regulations 2014 (as amended and corresponding Regulations in Wales, and Northern Ireland) and EU Food Information to Consumers (FIC) Regulation No 1169/2011.

Being a devolved responsibility food hypersensitivity policy lies with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) in Scotland.

Further information for members is also available via the FDF Allergens Toolkit.


The FDF publishes guidance on 'Allergen'-Free and Vegan Claims

The FDF has today published 'FDF Guidance on 'Allergen'-Free and Vegan Claims'.

Read more

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