There are two main types of labelling that are important to get to grips with. Ingredients labelling where allergens are listed and the rules behind ‘gluten-free’ labelling.
Changes to gluten free food legislation:
The current legislation – Commission Regulation (EC) No 41/2009 – lays down harmonised rules on the content and labelling of foodstuffs suitable for people intolerant to gluten.
This legislation sets out the conditions under which foods may be labelled as “gluten-free” or “very-low gluten“. The purpose is to ensure the health and safety of European consumers across the EU and remove unnecessary barriers to trade.
What will the new Regulation on Food for Specific Groups do for foods for people intolerant for gluten?
The new Regulation (EU) No 609/2013 repeals Regulation (EC) No 41/2009 from 20 July 2016 onwards and requires the Commission to transfer its rules under the framework of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers.
Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 already includes rules requiring the mandatory labelling for all foods of ingredients such as gluten-containing ingredients, with a scientifically proven allergenic or intolerance effect. In order to ensure clarity and consistency, the FSG Regulation foresees that all the rules applying to gluten should be set by the same piece of legislation and, for this reason, established that Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 should also be the framework for the rules related to information on the absence of gluten in food.
In order to comply with the requirements of the FSG Regulation, the Commission:
- – First amended Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 throughCommission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1155/2013 (this allowed the Commission to lay down rules on the matter) and;
- – Subsequently, adoptedCommission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 828/2014 which lays down the specific requirements for the provision of information to consumers on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in food.
Regulation (EU) No 828/2014 will not change the substantial rules for using the “gluten free” and “very low gluten” statements. However, the new rules will apply also to non pre-packed foods such as those served in restaurants (out of the scope of the existing rules). In addition, the new Regulation will also clarify how operators can inform gluten-intolerant consumers of the difference between foods that are naturally free of gluten and products that are specially formulated for them.
The substance in a food that causes an allergic reaction in certain people is called an allergen. Since 13th December 2014 all food on sale in Ireland, pre-packaged and unpackaged is covered by the EU Allergen Labelling Regulation 1169/2011/EC
It is a legal requirement to list all deliberate ingredients that contain allergens on the label of a packaged product regardless of the amount used. The allergenic foods must be emphasised in the ingredients list and a minimum font size of the amount sized. Manufacturers must declare the name of the gluten containing grain when used. For example, wheat starch, barley protein, rye flour or oat bran. If there is no mention of wheat, rye, barley or oats in the ingredients, then there is no deliberate gluten in the product.
Allergy advice boxes are no longer adequate, they can be used to highlight the presence of gluten contamination in a product or to direct consumers to the allergens highlighted in the ingredients list. This legislation does not cover cross-contamination where trace amounts of gluten accidently get into foods at some point during the manufacturing process. The good news is that all products on the Food List have been investigated with regard to the cross-contamination risk
Allergy information for unpackaged foods (loose food) means that caterers have to provide allergen information for dishes they serve. In Ireland, this information must be available in a written format and in a conspicuous place that is clearly visible to the consumer
The following ingredients are currently exempt from allergen labelling as evidence has shown that the processing has removed the allergenic factor. They are therefore considered gluten-free.
- Glucose syrups derived from wheat
- Wheat-based maltodextrins
- Cereals used in distilled products e.g. spirits and vinegars
‘Wheat free’ does not mean that the product is gluten-free. The product may contain other gluten containing cereals. Always check the Food List.
‘May Contain’ Labelling
Sometimes you may see on a package ‘Made in a factory handling gluten’ or ‘May contain gluten’. This is not a legal requirement and not a recommended practice. Again, we recommend always checking the current Food List.