Allergens, guidelines


Allergens, European Commission guidelines

The allergen directive is already a 14-year-old‘teenager‘ and the FIC regulation (1) starts elementary school these days at age six. The European Commission, better late than never, offers some clarification on how allergic consumers should be informed.

The European Commission’s communicationconcerning the provision of information on substances or products causing allergies or intolerances listed in Annex II of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers‘ (2) is intended to bring order to the confusing news that still plagues the Internal Market. With serious risk to vulnerable groups of consumers, suffering from food allergies and celiac disease.

The allergenic ingredients subject to dutiful specific information are those listed in Annex II of EU Regulation 1169/11, with some clarifications:

Grains containing gluten must be specified in their identity. (3) Without prejudice to the possibility of voluntarily adding a reference to the presence of gluten (e.g. ‘gluten’, ‘contains gluten’),

‘Ingredients produced from cereals containing gluten must be declared with a name that contains a clear reference to the specific type of cereal, i.e. wheat, rye, barley, oats.’ (EC Guidelines, Section 3.1.8)

gluten‘added as such, as an ingredient‘ must state ‘the type of grain from which it is derived, (4)

eggs must always be indicated, regardless of the poultry species of origin (from quail to chicken to ostrich),

milk is understood as‘secreted by the mammary gland of farm animals.’ Cow and buffalo but also donkey, goat and sheep,

nuts with shells cannot be mentioned by the category name alone. Instead, it is necessary to specify individual species (e.g., almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts),

‘In the case of nuts, the specific type listed in Annex II(8) must be indicated in the list of ingredients, i.e., almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashew nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, or Queensland nuts.’ (EC Guidelines, Section 3.1.13)

microorganisms conversely, although‘grown on a substrate that constitutes a food ingredient listed in Annex II shall not be considered products derived from such substrates.’


Graphical evidence of allergenic ingredients compared to others can be limited to the keyword of each (e.g., milk protein).

The repetition of the allergen contained in different ingredients and/or additives or adjuvants may be simplified by the use of asterisks or numbers. E.g. ’00 flour (1), bran (1)… (1) wheat’

The ingredient list is the only space where allergens are allowed to be listed. Repetitions outside this area are not allowed. (5) Nor fancy wording such as ‘produced in a factory where they also process…’.

On non-prepacked food, in the absence of national measures, ‘The provisions of the regulation concerning pre-packaged foods apply. Accordingly, (…) allergen information should be easily visible, clearly legible and, where appropriate, indelible, and provided in written form. Therefore, it is not possible to provide allergen information only at the request of the consumer.’

Too bad they forgot to specify the ban in Brussels to refer to the possible presence of ‘traces of (allergens)‘. And to clarify the responsibilities of operators during self-inspection to prevent the risks of accidental contamination. À la prochaine!

Dario Dongo


(1)‘Food Information to Consumers,’ reg. EU 1169/11

(2) Document C(2017) 4864 final, on.
(3) With requirement to refer to wheat grain also on spelt and khorasan (or kamut)

(4) Nevertheless, ‘When a product containing one of the cereals listed in Annex II (e.g. oats) meets the relevant requirements of Regulation (EU) No. 828/2014, the words ‘gluten-free’ or ‘very low gluten content’ may be used on the product

(5) Section 3.5.27