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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The EU food regulations are largely harmonised with those of countries in the EEA collaboration, which in this project applies to Norway. This should ensure consumer safety, but it also ensures free trade of goods between the Member States and the EEA countries. Even if the regulatory framework is the same in the Nordic countries, various interpretations can bring about different practices in the different countries. For companies that trade the same products in several Nordic countries, different procedures can create different conditions.

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