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\"free from..\" labelling

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By MARJAN on Fri, 07-23-99, 18:48

I'm working as a volunteer for the Dutch patientorganisation of people who suffer to food allergy as labelling-expert. In Holland we have a national databank where the most common allergens of a lot of brands are listed. Everyone can order a list of brands which does not contain the allergens he/she has to avoid. Therefore we are less dependent of the information on the label. I'm very glad for that because in Europe there is a so called 25%-rule. This means that as an ingredient (for example cheese on a pizza) is less than 25% of the product only the additives (preservatives, colours ..) has to be declared. The information on the label is therefore not specific enough to decide to eat something or not in case of a food allergy. On European level they are working at changing ingredientdeclaration-laws. Some manufactuers also use "may contain peanuts". We are not happy with this because a patient wants to know what he can eat, not what he don't. We want a safe system -both for industry (regarding to claims) and patients- where you can get "free-from .." information (for example milk, eggs, peanuts, sesame..)
Some manufactuers are now refusing to fill the databank because they are afraid of claims when there is wrong information on the list and somebody gets sick. We have had discussions with all concerned parties (government, industry, patientorganisations..) to make a consensus statement for how to inform consumers and labelling, but this was very hard and so far without any results. I'm wandering what information you have to make your desicion wheter a product is safe or not and what information you suggest to put on a label.

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