Munich - The new Food Information Regulation, which came into effect in Germany in November 2014, now requires allergen labelling even for non-prepacked foods (VorlLMIEV – Provisional Additional Ordinance on the Provision of Food Information). Since the introduction of the regulation, supermarket counters and restaurants have displayed a host of information in a variety of forms. The experts at TÜV SÜD explain what the specific requirements of the new law involves and how allergens must be declared.
Does the potato salad in the canteen contain milk? What about that loaf from the baker – are there nuts in it? And what exactly is in that pizza? The answers to these questions are vital for many consumers, who may live with food allergies or other forms of dietary intolerance.
More accurate information for consumers
To simplify food shopping for consumers, lists of ingredients on prepacked foods have been required to include the 14 most common allergenic ingredients since 2005. This allergen labelling requirement was extended to cover non-prepacked foods at the end of 2014. Dr. Andreas Daxenberger, food expert at TÜV SÜD, explains, “The new regulation applies not only to foods sold loose, but also to foods that are packaged at the point of sale at the request of the consumer or catering vendor.”
According to the regulation, the 14 food ingredients that most frequently trigger allergies and intolerances must now be displayed in food labelling – clearly legible and visible at the point of sale or access. These main allergens include:
- Cereals containing gluten (i.e. wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt and khorasan wheat and their hybridised strains) and products thereof
- Crustaceans and products thereof
- Eggs and products thereof
- Fish and products thereof
- Peanuts and products thereof
- Soybeans and products thereof
- Milk and products thereof (including lactose)
- Nuts (i.e. almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts (also known as Queensland nuts)) and products thereof
- Celery and products thereof
- Mustard and products thereof
- Sesame seeds and products thereof
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphites in concentrations higher than 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/l
- Lupin and products thereof
- Molluscs (e.g. snails, mussels, clams, squid) and products thereof
What do the requirements involve?
The allergen information must be designed and displayed in such a way that customers can directly or easily view the information before making their purchase or accepting their food. Consumers can find the labelling on a sign directly on or adjacent to the product, in a folder or on a notice-board at a food counter, in the menu or list of beverages, or by using easily accessed electronic media provided directly at the point of access to the foods.
“Verbal statements provided by well-informed staff are also possible if they fulfil specific criteria”, adds Dr. Andreas Daxenberger. In this case, a clearly visible notice must inform customers that the details they require will be given verbally. As purely verbal information always involves a high risk of error, written documentation of the ingredients used in the foods must also be available for customers or official inspectors to examine on request.
These conditions apply to commercial operations where food is sold, but not to the occasional sale of foods by individuals – such as bake sales or charity events held at kindergartens or schools.