New guidelines covering ‘free from…’ claims on food products have been issued by two leading trade organisations and health campaigners…
The document, from the British Retail Consortium and the Food & Drink Federation, with the support of Anaphylaxis Campaign and Coeliac UK, provides food manufacturers, retailers and enforcement authorities with essential advice on what must be considered before making a ‘free-from’ claim on a product.
At present, with the exception of ‘gluten-free’, there are no specific rules at either UK or EU level governing the use of ‘free-from’ claims; neither is there any publically available guidance for businesses on making such claims.
The BRC and FDF have pooled their expertise to produce easy-to-use guidelines for food business operators, large and small, with the aim of ensuring that ‘free-from’ claims are applied both accurately and consistently across the whole food industry. All food labels, including ‘free from’, must be substantiated and reliable if they are to be safe for consumers.
In addition to helping business operators know when and how to label, the guidance also provides a useful overview of relevant UK and EU legislation and key things to consider with regard to appropriate manufacturing practices and also when carrying out a risk assessment.
The BRC’s Deputy Food Director, Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, said: “A ‘free-from’ claim cannot be taken lightly. A small manufacturer could now confidently understand whether producing a ‘free-from’ product is within their capability. It will also result in more consistency, which means more consumer trust as acknowledged in the foreword to the guidance by FSA Chief Executive Catherine Brown.”
Barbara Gallani, chief scientist, policy and sustainability director at the FDF said: “This guidance on ‘free-from’, which follows on from the publication earlier this year of FDF's Gluten Labeling Guidance, is going to provide food businesses with key information on legal requirements, risk assessment and consumer expectations.
“We are pleased that our long standing collaboration with the British Retail Consortium, Anaphylaxis Campaign and Coeliac UK is continuing to deliver useful advice to businesses and ultimately more consistent labeling for consumers.”
The BRC-FDF Guidance on Free-From Allergen Claims document can be found here