RSSL to carry out FSA allergen survey

Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL) has been chosen by the Food Standards Agency to carry out a survey of allergen advisory labelling in the UK.

The survey aims to provide a better understanding of whether this type of labelling relates to the actual level of allergen present in foods sold on the UK market. It is not intended to be representative of the entire UK retail market, as only 12 product categories are being considered. However, it will provide a snapshot of 500 pre-packed processed food products that may or may not carry allergen advisory labelling.

In the study, designed by RSSL’s allergen experts, samples will be purchased, at random in duplicate, by a third party agency and sent to RSSL’s laboratories for analysis. All samples will be analysed by internationally accepted ELISA methods for the presence and level of milk, cereals containing gluten, peanut and hazelnut.

“The survey aims to offer a better understanding of the type of allergen advisory labelling present on pre-packed processed foods sold in the UK,” says a spokesman for RSSL. “It also aims to quantify the level of allergens present in the food as a result of cross contamination, and establish whether the type of advisory labelling used actually relates to the level of allergen present. It will look at the different types of advisory labelling used on processed foods and will consider whether different statements, such as ‘may contain nuts’ or ‘not suitable for someone with a nut allergy’, convey accurate levels of risk to the consumer.

Results should be published in autumn 2013.

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