From 26 November 2005 prepacked food products have had to indicate on the label if they contain the following foods which can cause allergic reactions in some people. (Note that products packed before the date can still be legally sold so do not presume that from November all products will yet be fully labelled. It will take some time to sell through the old style labelled products.)
Cereals containing gluten: wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut and their hybridised strains
Nuts: Almond , Hazelnut, Walnut, Cashew, Pecan nut, Brazil nut, Pistachio nut, Macadamia nut and Queensland nut
Sulphur dioxide and sulphites at concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/litre expressed as SO2
There had previously been no legal requirement to do this and many consumers do not realise that ingredients lists do not always include every single ingredient the food contained.
There will still be some exceptions to listing all ingredients but if the product contains any of the listed allergens they will have to be labelled.
However don’t expect all packs to have a big allergen information box – many will do so making it easy for customers to see at a glance all the allergenic foods in the product. Some will simply list the allergen clearly in the ingredients list – so if there is no separate allergen box read the ingredients list in full to check.
But beware – products packed on the premises where they are sold such as in butchers and bakers are not covered by the law and there is no requirement for them to be labelled with ingredients lists or allergens. If you buy these items you can ask in the shop for information about the ingredients but remember to make it perfectly clear that you have an allergy. It may be that the product you want to buy does not contain the ingredient you are allergic to but other products made on the premises may do – meaning there could be cross contamination.
Products sold loose such as from deli counters are also not required to be labelled nor are foods sold from restaurants and cafes.
For more information visit the following sites