Plain English Allergen Labelling (PEAL)
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Allergen Labelling – Food Standards Australia & New Zealand
Last updated: July 2022
Some foods and ingredients can cause allergic reactions including anaphylaxis, immune reactions such as in Celiac disease, and other adverse health reactions such as asthma. In February 2021, new plain English allergen labelling requirements were introduced for how certain foods known to be common allergens are declared. These changes will mean food allergen information is clearer and easier to find on food labels.
Food businesses have three years to update their labels to meet the new requirements. You can expect to see changes fully introduced by February 2024.
What must be declared
The food and ingredients listed below will need to be declared in the ingredient list when they are present using the exact name (from Table 1 below) and bolded text. For example cheese (milk) or milk powder. As indicated in the table, the new requirements also mean that individual tree nuts, molluscs and individual cereals must all be declared separately.
Table 1: Foods and ingredients to be declared (using these names)
soy, soya, soybean
* Barley, oats and rye must be declared if they contain gluten.
** Sulphites must be declared when added in amounts equal to or more than 10 milligrams per kilogram of food.
A bolded, separate allergen summary statement starting with the word 'contains' will also need to be provided near the ingredient list to help quickly identify any allergens present. For example 'Contains milk'.
If a cereal containing gluten such as wheat, barley, oats and rye, (including hybrids of these cereals such as triticale) is present, the label will need to identify this in the summary statement using the word 'gluten'.
If the food is not in packaging or does not need to have a label, the information must be displayed with the food or can be requested from the supplier. For example, by asking about allergens in food prepared and sold from a takeaway shop.
Some food can be manufactured in a way that makes it safe to be eaten by people with allergies and does not need to have allergens declared.
If a food contains bee pollen, propolis or royal jelly they must be labelled with either a warning or advisory statement.
'May contain' statements
Some food labels use 'may contain' or 'may be present' statements to indicate the possible unintended presence of allergens occurring during food manufacture, such as 'may contain milk'. This is also known as precautionary allergen labelling (PAL). These are voluntary statements made by food suppliers and the Food Standards Code does not regulate them.
Allergen Labelling – Allergy New Zealand
The foods which must be labelled or information provided on request are the most common foods that can cause allergic reactions in Australia and New Zealand:
- tree nuts
- sesame seeds
The Food Standards Code requires suppliers to declare these foods on labels whenever they are present as:
- components of food additives
- components of processing aids
Sulphites can cause severe health reactions in some people with asthma. Suppliers must declare sulphites when they have been added in amounts of 10 or more milligrams per kilogram of food.
Suppliers need to declare gluten-containing cereals so people with Coeliac Disease can identify these products. Gluten-containing cereals include:
- hybrid strains of these cereals such as triticale
The Food Standards Code also includes requirements for making 'gluten free' and 'low gluten' claims.
Reference: Allergen labelling (foodstandards.gov.au)