Allergen labelling and use of advisory labelling "May contain traces of [allergen]"

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In 2010-2012, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland collaborated in a Nordic inspection campaign about labelling of allergens and use of advisory labelling (“May contain traces of [allergen]”). The background to the project was that accurate labelling of allergens is crucial for the health of people who suffer from allergies. If allergens listed in Annex IIIa of the EC Directive (2000/13/EC with amendments) are not presented on a product label, this can present a serious health risk for people with allergies. Furthermore, increased use of the advisory labelling “May contain traces of [allergen]” is making it harder for people with allergies to choose products. One aim of the project was to encourage food companies to take responsibility for accurate labelling of allergens on their products. The project also aimed to increase awareness and knowledge in food companies about allergy safety, and thereby improve procedures for advisory labelling about allergens. Other aims were to develop a common standpoint on the use of advisory labelling and to promote the Nordic co-operation.

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A large proportion of the companies inspected in the project were chosen on the basis of risk. The Nordic food inspection bodies have observed that there are products on the Nordic market that are incorrectly labelled in terms of allergens. This entails a risk for consumers with allergies, ranging from mild to life-threatening reactions as a result. The Nordic food inspection bodies are of the view that incorrect labelling of ingredients is a serious deficiency, particularly regarding allergens.

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