The UK's Food Standards Agency is seeking views on draft technical guidance primarily aimed at food businesses that are small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The guidance gives SMEs information about changes in European Union food allergen labeling for prepacked foods and allergen information for non-prepacked foods.

The draft guidance covers new rules on food allergen labeling and the provision of food allergen information which will apply across the European Union, including the UK, from Dec. 13, 2014. The guidance aims to support SME food producers, manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and caterers in following these rules.

The proposal applies to:

  • additives and supplements
  • allergy and intolerance
  • dairy products and vegetable oils
  • fish and shellfish
  • food law, monitoring and controls
  • imports

Full information about the guidance and consultation can be found in the interested parties letter.

The consultation will allow stakeholders a total of six weeks to provide comments on the guidance. This period will be split into two phases with a revised version of the guidance, incorporating comments received in the first round, being published on this page for further comment. Details of this are explained in the consultation process section of the letter to interested parties.

Phase one questions

  • Do you think this guidance helps you develop your understanding of the new allergen requirements? Is it also helpful in assisting SMEs to comply with the requirements?
  • Based on initial estimates, the FSA believes that it will take an average of 2 hours for businesses to read and familiarize themselves with the whole guidance. Do you agree?
  • When commenting, please consider that the time taken to read the guidance depends on the particular business (i.e. prepacked foods or non-prepacked foods) and for some not all parts of the guidance will apply.

FSA officials said they look forward to receiving stakeholders' views on this assessment, as well as any supporting evidence and any suggestions for improving its content (layout, wording, examples, etc.).

Phase one comments should be submitted to by Thursday, June 5, 2014. The agency will then review comments and publish a summary of these, a revised draft of the guidance, and an overview of the changes made to the guidance.

The deadline for phase two comments will be Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

More details about the second phase of the consultation can be found in the interested parties letter. [Editor's Note: There are two "interested parties letters" -- one for the rest of the UK and another that applies specifically to Wales.]

Details of the final review and the final guidance itself are expected to be published during the week beginning Monday, July 21, 2014.

For further information, contact:

Chun-Han Chan
Food Allergy and Intolerance Branch

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