Holyrood passes new legislation to improve food allergen labelling in Scotland

Legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament will specify that pre-packed food for direct sale must include additional food allergen labelling to better protect consumers.

A woman buys products in a supermarket food aisle

Pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS) foods such as sandwiches packaged by the food business and sold from the same premises, wrapped deli counter goods like cheese and meats, and boxed salads taken from refrigerated shelves will now require additional labelling under the ruling.

Details such as the product name and full ingredients, including allergen information, will have to be listed on PPDS foods alongside the 14 most common allergens as set out in food information and other ingredients which can trigger reactions.

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This new legislation was passed after an extensive consultation with food businesses, enforcement stakeholders and citizens looked at possible solutions to improving allergen information on food packaging, with the ultimate goal of preventing food allergy deaths occurring outside the home.

The Scottish Parliament have passed the legislation requiring food businesses to provide additional allergen information on pre-packed food for direct sale. Image © Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body

To correspond with similar legislative efforts to protect consumers across the UK, the Scottish Parliament’s legislation is due to come into force on October 1.

Ross Finnie, chair of Food Standards Scotland (FSS), said: “The implementation of this new law supports the strong consumer call for complete allergen and ingredient information on PPDS foods, making life easier for many who need to have clarity and trust in the food they buy for safety and dietary reasons.

“This level of transparency is a significant step forward in providing clear information for people with allergies, which can be life threatening if they consume food to which they are allergic.

“While the best level of consumer protection is vital, we recognise that changing labelling requirements will affect businesses, and have carried out extensive stakeholder engagement across industry and enforcement authorities to assess the benefits, risks and impacts.

“We will continue to engage with stakeholders to raise awareness through a communications campaign in the coming months to highlight the changes and provide support through practical guidance and online resources, including an allergen training package which will help businesses and enforcement officers.”

FSS says it will work closely with the Food Standards Agency to publish information to make sure businesses of all sizes throughout the UK can prepare and adapt to the changes.

Scottish public health minister Mairi Gougeon said: “I welcome that Scotland is moving forward and making these important changes.

"Everyone wants to understand more about what is in their food and we want to give them increased confidence about the food that they buy.

“Having information about allergens and ingredients upfront on the labels of all prewrapped food is crucial for people who have food allergies and I am pleased that we are making real progress here.

“I recognise that this is also a challenge for industry, which is why we are announcing these changes now.

“FSS will continue working with stakeholders over the next eight months to help industry prepare for when the new labelling requirements come into force in October.”

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