The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recommended that food outlets should increase allergen information on all pre-packed foods for direct sale to consumers in the UK, including the 14 major allergens. This call follows the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in 2016 after she ate a sandwich from Pret a Manger containing sesame to which she was allergic.

The FSA’s advice applies to foods that have been packed in the same place they are being sold, for example a packaged sandwich or salad made earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase. At the moment this type of food is not required to be labelled or contain information about allergens; the customer has to ask the person who made or packed the product for allergen information.

The FSA board held a public meeting with UK Government ministers where they agreed that full ingredient labelling should be compulsory for all these foods. The FSA said it would be a big improvement for consumers to have allergens labelled on packaged foods and would support the board’s ambition to make the UK the ‘best place’ for consumers with food allergies and intolerances.

The board added that there should be more awareness about allergens for the public and in businesses.

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Food Standards Agency chair Heather Hancock said: “Food allergies and intolerance affects millions of people and its impact can be as big or bigger than almost all other foodborne diseases.

“This is why we have concluded that more extensive food labelling is the right outcome to provide greater protection for consumers but introduced in a way that we can be confident will work.

“While it is impossible to eliminate the risk entirely, we consider that this change along with other measures we are prioritising will deliver more effective protection for allergic consumers.”

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