Understanding food labels for food allergy

food labelIt is important to check the food label when buying food every time you purchase the product.  Even if it has been a ‘safe’ food in the past, manufacturers can change ingredients and processes at any time without notice.

Allergen information on food labels

The Food Standards Code requires the following common food allergens to be declared on packaged food labels:

  • peanuts

  • tree nuts, (e.g. almonds, cashews)

  • eggs

  • cow’s milk (this includes all dairy foods)

  • fish

  • crustacea (e.g. prawns, lobster)

  • sesame seeds

  • soy/soybeans

  • cereals containing gluten and their products, namely, wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt and their hybridised strains (e.g. triticale)

  • lupin

When a food does not have to have a label (such as food made and packaged on the premises from which it is sold), then the Food Standards Code requires the seller to provide information about the above food allergens to customers on request.

These allergens must be declared if they are included as:

  • An ingredient

  • Part of a compound ingredient

  • A food additive  

  • A processing aid

The Food Standards Code also requires that sulphites in concentrations of 10mg/kg or more must also be declared on food labels of packaged foods.

Further information about the Food Standards Code is available from the FSANZ website:

www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Pages/default.aspx

Confused about wheat and gluten?

  • Some people find labelling about gluten and wheat confusing. 

  • Customers with wheat allergy need to avoid wheat proteins and need to check if wheat is an ingredient rather than just gluten. 

  • People with coeliac disease need to avoid all gluten and gluten may come from a number of sources (e.g. rye, barley, oats, spelt or their hybridised strains).

What are precautionary allergen statements?

  • Statements such as “May contain…” and “Made on equipment that also produces products containing…” are examples of precautionary allergen statements. 

  • These statements are voluntary and not regulated by the Food Standards Code. 

  • They are often used to declare the risk of cross contamination with allergens.

  • You should discuss with your or your child’s allergist about whether foods containing precautionary allergen statements should be eaten.

  • If you would like more information about the level of risk, contact the manufacturer of the product for more information. 

Example of how food allergens should be declared on a food label

example food label

Content updated 12 July 2017