Inter-Nordic food allergen project

Abstract:

Allergens are substances that people in general are allergic or hypersensitive to. Inaccurate labelling of food allergens, such as milk, egg and various nuts, poses a serious health risk to allergy sufferers and hypersensitive people. Occasionally, celiac and wheat allergy sufferers have had allergic reactions in the absence of a marking indicating that the food product contains wheat. Chocolate, sweets, bakery products, semi-cooked products like sausage and meatballs as well as processed foods are typical foods containing these allergens.

The purpose of the regulations on the labelling of food allergens is to ensure that allergy sufferers and hypersensitive people are able to identify the foodstuffs with contents causing allergic reactions. Consequently, proper marking of allergens is extremely important. The project team has selected for the project allergens and product types causing the majority of unexpected allergic reactions.

The project is designed to increase awareness of the proper and accurate labelling of allergens. One of the objectives is to increase awareness among operators and regulatory authorities to ensure that the operators use the markings correctly and that supervision is efficient and risk-based. Another objective is to establish the current level of compliance with the legislation on the labelling of allergens and determine the amounts of unidentified allergens contained in products.   This inter-Nordic project is carried out in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark and it is co-funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The project is coordinated by the National Food Agency of Sweden.

Aims:

  • To determine the current level of compliance with the legislation on the labelling of allergens.
  • Foods that are found, in the course of the project  to carry incorrect allergen markings and to pose a risk to allergy sufferers, will be removed from the market.
  • To increase awareness of the Nordic countries’ position on the marking ‘May contain small amounts of...’
  • To learn how widely the Nordic countries’ position on the marking ‘May contain small amounts of...’ is known and complied with.
  • To determine the amount of allergens contained in duly marked foods and foods without warning labels and the concentrations of the allergens in such products.

Keywords:

food allergens, labelling

Responsible project leader:

Sjögren Bolin, Ylva, Senior Chemist, Ph.D., National Food Agency, Sweden

Person at Evira responsible for the project:

Anthoni, Minna, Senior Researcher, Ph.D., Chemistry and Toxicology

In cooperation with:

National Food Agency (Sweden),
Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Norway);
Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Denmark)

Project status: 

Previous

Year of commencement:

2014

Year of completion:

2017

Project is financed by: 

Nordic Council of Ministers