Approximately six out of every 10 companies in the Netherlands are not correctly providing food allergen information for non-prepacked products, according to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).
Each year, NVWA checks whether food businesses comply with food allergen information provision requirements. In 2022, the agency reviewed 12,934 companies to assess whether they properly inform their customers about allergens in non-prepacked food.
Allergen Information Requirements
In the Netherlands, food business operators must provide consumers with allergen information for non-prepacked foods, either in writing or orally. The requirements for written allergen information are:
- The allergen information is clearly visible, meaning that the information can be viewed immediately, or that it is clear where such information can be found (e.g., in a reference book at checkout)
- The information must be visible in all places in the store where non-prepacked foodstuffs are offered
- The information must be freely accessible to everyone, understandable, and clearly legible, and consumers must be able to view or read correct information without the assistance of an employee.
The requirements for oral allergen information are:
- There must be a “trigger,” meaning there exists a written statement communicating to consumers that they can ask staff for information
- The information must be available in writing or electronically for the staff and for NVWA inspectors
- The information provided must be given before purchase and must be correct.
The inspection results showed that many companies still do not adequately inform consumers about allergens, with nearly six out of 10 companies providing incomplete or partially incorrect information. Additionally, NVWA found that allergen information kept by food businesses is often inaccessible to consumers and inspectors.
IN 2022, NVWA was able to carry out many more inspections than in 2021. In 2022, the agency checked 2,256 craft businesses, such as such as bakers, butchers, and ice cream parlors; 9,407 hospitality businesses, such as such as restaurants, hotels, and cafeterias; 1,171 retail businesses, such as supermarkets and smaller specialized shops; and 100 institutions, such as hospitals and nursing homes. Rates of compliance in 2022 for each business category are as follows:
- Craft: 48 percent compliance rate, a 1 percent decrease from 2021
- Hospitality: 41 percent compliance rate, a 6 percent increase from 2021
- Retail: 38 percent compliance rate, a 21 percent decrease from 2021
- Institutions: 65 percent compliance rate, with no comparable data from 2021.
NVWA imposed written warnings and fines for all violations in accordance with the agency’s intervention policy.