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05 October 2022
Food Allergy
PREVENT, - Food Safety

Between May and July, the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), a WHO-FAO body setting international food standards, organised a stakeholder consultation to revise the provisions of the General Standard for the Labelling of Prepacked Food (GSLPF) related to allergen labelling.

In our response to the consultation, EFA brought forward our European food allergy patient perspective on labelling. Based on the principle that allergen labelling is a crucial aspect of food safety, our feedback aligned with proposed revisions that advance the protection of allergy patients, while suggesting improvements in those areas where gaps remain.

Soy and oats should remain as priority allergens

EFA opposed the proposal to remove soy from the list of priority allergens (and addressing it as ‘regional allergen’). As soy is extensively used as ingredient, it would make it very difficult for consumers with soy allergy to identify their allergen if it would be removed from priority allergens and therefore mandatory labelling. In this light, our proposal is to create a larger, more extensive list comprising all regional allergens, that will facilitate global harmonization, food trade, travelling and working.

In the same spirit, we also suggested to keep oats in the list of priority allergens, as the risk of having oats contaminated with wheat is very high and could pose a risk to the allergic consumer.

Lactose should be removed from the priority allergen list

On the other hand, EFA encourages Codex to include only immunologically mediated food hypersensitivities (that is, food allergies) in the list of major allergens and, therefore, remove lactose from the list of priority allergens. Rather, to better inform patients with lactose intolerance and clearly separate the labelling of food allergens/immunologically mediated reactions to food from non-immunologically mediated ones, we suggest establishing a specific framework for lactose and lactose-free food products – in line with “gluten-free”.

Include a health warning on sulphites

Regarding sulphites, since an updated risk assessment is not yet available, and sulphites are one of the priority allergens listed in many countries, removing it from the list of priority allergens could have broad implications on the allergic community. What could be used instead is a footnote advising that in some cases sulphites can potentially cause a severe non IgE-mediated reaction.

Call on CAC to advance work on PAL

Finally, we consider that the issue of summary statements needs further pondering as they are closely linked with discussions on Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL). Therefore, we look forward to future initiatives on this issue at the Codex level.

You can access the full EFA response to the consultation here.