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New guidance aims to harmonise EU allergen management

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 04-Feb-2013

Peanut allergies are among the most common and most serious food allergies
Peanut allergies are among the most common and most serious food allergies

European industry trade body FoodDrinkEurope has released guidance intended to harmonise management of food allergens in pre-packaged foods across the European food industry.

The organisation says that the guidance will help food companies understand and manage risk from allergens across Europe, and to fulfil their responsibility to reduce risk in line with legal requirements. Among other topics, it covers specific actions for risk assessment and risk management, cleaning and cleaning validation, training, and analytical methods and their application.

FoodDrinkEurope president Jesús Serafín Pérez said in a statement: By harmonising and disseminating good practice across the European food industry at all levels, the FoodDrinkEurope Guidance ensures a consistent understanding of, and approach to, managing allergens and certain food causing intolerances to a high standard throughout the European food industry.

“This will help minimise the risk to allergic consumers and enable consumers to make informed product choices.”

Manufacturers must be able to demonstrate that they understand and are managing potential risks at every stage, including managing the supply chain, adhering to relevant regulations, instigating an allergen management plan, and effectively communicating allergen risks to consumers.

The FoodDrinkEurope guidance is intended to be readily adaptable to different production processes and facility designs. It also includes information on how to approach advisory labelling.

According to a recent review, an estimated 2% to 4% of the total European population has a food allergy – about 10 to 20 million people – including 5% to 8% of children. However, the number of people who believe they have a food allergy is much higher, at about 20% of the population.

In practice, no cure exists for food allergy, although some children may outgrow their allergy, and the only treatment available is avoidance of allergen-containing foods.

The guidance is available to download by clicking here