Tips for reading labels
Do you find reading labels daunting?
With a few simple tips you will be able to quickly assess if a product is suitable for your dietary requirements.
MANDATORY LABELLING REQUIREMENTS
The below major allergens require mandatory labelling in Australia and New Zealand, USA and Europe as prescribed by FSANZ: Food Standards Australia and New Zealand 1.2.3, the Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (US) and the Euroean Food Information for Consumers Regulations on food labelling introduced in 2014. They must be identified in the ingredient list and/or allergen statement.
- Added sulphites in concentrations of 10mg/kg or more
- Crustacea (shellfish) and their products
- Egg and egg products
- Fish and fish products
- Milk and milk products
- Peanuts and peanut products
- Tree nuts and tree nut products (e.g. hazelnuts, cashew nuts, brazil nuts)
- Soybeans and soybean products
- Wheat and Wheat products
In addition to the above, the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards also required mandatory labelling of:
- Cereals containing gluten and their products namely wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt (the US has a regulation in place for gluten free labelling)
- Sesame seeds and sesame seed products
- Royal Jelly (a mandatory warning statement is required for royal jelly when presented as a food or as an ingredient in a food)
The Eurpoean Food Information for Consumers also requires mandatory labelling of:
- Celery and Celeriac
- Sesame Seeds
Food additives include:
Food additives are often listed under a number in the ingredient list for example ‘Food Colour (160a)’. If any food additive is derived from one of the allergens listed above, the allergen must be declared on the label.
TIP 1: FRONT OF PACK CLAIMS “FREE FROM”
This is strictly a tip for identifying what allergens are not in the product. Check the front of the pack for claims or logos such as:
- Dairy Free
- Nut Free
- Egg Free
- Gluten Free
- Coeliac Australia Endorsement Logo (gluten free)
TIP 2INGREDIENT LIST – INGREDIENTS IN BOLD
Some manufacturers bold allergens in the ingredient list to make it easier to identify them in an often long list of ingredients. This is not mandatory but is worth checking for.
It is important to know that a compound ingredient (one that contains multiple ingredients) must also have allergens labelled.
e.g. Butter (contains Milk)
TIP 3: ALLERGEN SUMMARY STATEMENT/ALLERGY ADVICE
Check for an allergen summary statement. It is not mandatory, however if used it will be found immediately after, or close to the ingredient list. This statement details if any of the allergens requiring mandatory labelling are in the product.
e.g. Contains wheat, gluten, milk and egg
TIP 4: MANUFACTURING STATEMENT
There may also be a manufacturing statement or cross contact statement positioned close to the ingredient list. It indicates a risk of cross contamination due to cross contact.
e.g. Manufactured in a facility that also processes tree nuts
May contain traces of peanuts
TIP 5: ALWAYS CHECK THE LABEL
Always check the label before purchasing, even if you have purchased that brand before, as ingredients can change.
Note: this information is provide as a guide only and is based on the food labelling standards in the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code, the US Food Allergen and Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) and the European EU FIC Regulation. Food labelling requirements vary from country to country, so please consult your governing body for the regulations appropriate to where you live.