News
30 November 2022
International
Food Allergy
- Food Safety

In September, EFA participated in a crucial consultation organised by the food labelling committee of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The consultation is part of the process to develop a Codex guideline for the use of technology in food labelling, putting forward common definitions, principles and considerations in a previously unexplored area. Having European food allergy patients in this work will ensure decision-makers are informed of patients needs and expectations.

The consultation provided with another opportunity for EFA to stress the importance of access to health-related information in light of the overall trend towards digitalisation. EFA acknowledges the value of digital tools in providing food information, but we recognise the information provided digitally today is not equivalent to conventional labelling. Digitalisation may also undermine access to information to certain population groups less acquainted with technology e.g. the elderly. In EFA view, digital food labelling should never substitute on-pack labelling.

For food allergy patients, it is essential to ensure that there are no barriers in making informed and safe food choices with regards to the presence of allergens in food. This is also applicable to information that is voluntary in most jurisdictions (including the EU) such as Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL).

In emergencies, digital means can be useful and should be considered. However, food information on health and safety must still be available in a physical format on the package. Exemptions requiring the use of alternative means e.g. stickers or inkjet printing must be harmonised, without undermining other crucial food information on the package. Emergency labelling should only be used during the necessary amount of time.

Within our Codex observer status since 2019, EFA is following closely the work of Codex on food allergens, including the revision of the allergen-related provisions of the General Standard for the Labelling of Prepacked Food (GSLPF); and the guidance on the use of PAL that is being developed. In the meantime, we are looking forward to the upcoming reports by FAO/WHO experts on the threshold levels of priority allergens and the evaluation of evidence in support of PAL.