Making allergen labelling mandatory is necessary to safeguard the people with food allergies. To be more precise, with allergen declarations on labels, allergy sufferers can know which food items to avoid. Most importantly, this requirement is a good step in preventing deaths due to food allergies.
In the past three years, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has been trying to spread information to business owners and consumers about the importance of allergen labelling. They have launched several information campaigns since 2014 to help food businesses learn about food allergens, especially those used for the food products they sell or serve. FSAI also educates businesses on why it’s mandatory and how they can meet their legal obligation to inform the public about food allergens in their products.
Statistics On Food Allergies
In Ireland, 3% of adults and 6% of children have food allergies. 1 out of 55 children are allergic to peanuts. This is one of the top food allergies not just in Ireland but globally as well.
Meanwhile, 1 out of 100 people have coeliac disease which is an abnormal reaction to gluten found in cereals. In terms of the number of hospital admissions for children with food allergies, reports indicate that it has increased by 700% from 1990 to 2007 in the UK alone.
Current State Of Allergen Labelling Compliance In Ireland
The FSAI has been reiterating the importance of informing consumers about allergens contained in food products. However, despite the campaigns and repeated calls, some food and beverage companies still do not comply with allergen labelling requirements as shown in an FSAI-conducted audit on businesses about their compliance to the law on food labelling.
In this audit, they randomly selected 50 businesses. All audits were unannounced. The audit showed that 32% of these businesses didn’t provide any information on allergens at all. Among those that provided allergen information, only 24% were accurate. Out of the 50 businesses, 26 of them either had incomplete ingredients or placed incorrect allergen information on the food labels.
Other significant findings were that many of these businesses thought they only needed to provide allergen information when customers asked for it. Some of them lacked knowledge about what the 14 food allergens are. Also, some of these businesses thought that the nutrition labelling campaign by the FSAI was a one-time project only. They didn’t know that it was supposed to be done regularly and continuously as mandated by law.
Why Is Allergen Labelling Important
Clearly, based on the audit, not all company owners understand the importance of allergen labelling. Do not be one of them!
Based on the statistics, a considerable number of people, which include children, have food allergies. By putting allergen declarations on your products, you look after the welfare of your customers. You help them avoid ingesting food that can make them sick. Moreover, as food allergies can be fatal, allergen labelling can save lives – you save lives.
So, do not take allergen labelling for granted. If you do not know how to comply with this regulation, do not hesitate to ask help from experts. Moreover, there is currently an abundance of resources online you can use to learn about allergen labelling standards in Ireland. If creating allergen declaration is what you’re worried about, know that there are labelling software which make the creation of allergen declaration easier.
Need more information on allergen labelling in Ireland? Call us at +35365 6844488 today!