Allergen information needs more work, says GS1 UK

That’s according to fresh research from GS1 UK, collated just over two months before Natasha’s Law comes into force, overhauling allergen labelling requirements for food pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS) from out-of-home outlets.

According to the results of a consumer survey commissioned by the not-for-profit global food standards body, one in five respondents believed they had a food allergy. However, ​one in six could not identify any allergens in common food groups.

Only 43% correctly identified tree nuts as an allergen in pesto, whilst just 48% knew tofu was made from soybeans (also an allergen) and nearly a third did not know milk was the allergen in yoghurt.

Would rather ‘take the risk’

Social awkwardness meant two thirds of those claiming they suffered from an allergy did not feel comfortable asking about allergens in dishes when eating out and would rather ‘take the risk’ instead.

Eight in ten agreed it was important that new food legislation was introduced to protect those with severe food allergies out of home.

The research pinpointed a challenge concerning allergen information provided online. Consumers responding to the survey said they were more than twice as likely to understand everything that was inside a product when shopping in store, compared to using websites.

Currently, only 42% said they trusted large brands to accurately label their products with allergen information, although an even smaller proportion said they would trust smaller brands.

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