EUGLOREH project




5.10. Food allergy and intolerance

5.10.5. Control tools and policies

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5.10.5. Control tools and policies


Since the main way of managing food allergy and intolerance is avoiding exposure to the incriminated food, adequate food labelling is a major policy tool for protecting consumers at risk. Council Directive 2000/13/EC (European Commission, 2000) setting the general provisions on the labelling of foodstuffs to be delivered to the consumer, was amended by Commission Directive 2003/89/EC (European Commission, 2003) as regards the indication of the ingredients present in foodstuffs. The new labelling rules in particular aim at ensuring that consumers suffering from food allergies or who wish to avoid eating certain ingredients for any other reason are informed. They foresee that all ingredients in foodstuffs will have to be included on the label and abolish the "25% rule" in Council Directive 2000/13/EC (European Commission, 2000), which meant that it was not obligatory to label the components of compound ingredients that make up less than 25% of the final food product. In addition, Annex IIIa of Commission Directive 2003/89/EC (European Commission, 2003) specifies a list of food ingredients or substances that are known to trigger allergic reactions or intolerances in sensitive individuals for which no labelling exemptions are allowed. Whenever the listed ingredients/substances or their derivatives are used in the production of foodstuffs, they must be labelled with a clear reference to the name of the allergenic source (Table 5.10.1). Alcoholic beverages also have the obligation to mention allergens on their labels. These new provisions were fully implemented as of 25 November 2005. It is of renowned that European legislation does not differentiate between IgE-mediated and non IgE-mediated food allergy, or between food allergy and food intolerance regarding the labelling of substances or ingredients that may cause adverse reactions to foodstuffs.


Table 5.10.3. List of food ingredients/substances subject to compulsory labelling in the EU when used in the in the production of foodstuffs and derivatives exempted from labelling.



Directive 2003/89/EC

-                      Cereals containing gluten and products thereof (a)

-                      Crustaceans and products thereof

-                      Eggs and products thereof

-                      Fish and products thereof (b)

-                      Peanuts and products thereof

-                      Soybeans and products thereof (c)

-                      Milk and products thereof (including lactose) (d)

-                      Nuts and products thereof (e)

-                      Celery and products thereof

-                      Mustard and products thereof

-                      Sesame seeds and products thereof

-                      Sulphur dioxide and sulphites at concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/litre expressed as SO2.


Directive 2005/26/EC

-                Lupin and products thereof

-                Moluscs and products thereof

Directive 2007/68/EC

Exempted from labelling:


(a) wheat-based glucose syrups including dextrose (1); wheat-based maltodextrins (1); glucose syrups based on barley; cereals used for making distillates or ethyl alcohol of a agricultural origin for spirit drinks and other alcoholic beverages.


(b) fish gelatine used as carrier for vitamin or carotenoid preparations; fish gelatine or Isinglass used as fining agent in beer and wine.


(c) fully refined soybean oil and fat (1); natural mixed tocopherols (E306), natural D-alpha tocopherol, natural D-alpha tocopherol acetate, natural D-alpha tocopherol succinate from soybean sources;

vegetable oils derived phytosterols and phytosterol esters from soybean sources; plant stanol ester produced from vegetable oil sterols from soybean sources.


(d) whey used for making distillates or ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin for spirit drinks and other alcoholic beverages; lactitol.


(e) nuts used for making distillates or ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin for spirit drinks and other alcoholic beverages.


(1) And products thereof, insofar as the process that they have undergone is not likely to increase the level of allergenicity assessed by the EFSA for the relevant product from which they originated.



However, since it is possible that some ingredients or substances, derived from allergens, are not likely to be a risk for allergic peoples, Commission Directive 2003/89/EC establishes, during a transitional period, a procedure which allows the industry to provide scientific justification for that, and obtain a provisional labelling exemption for these ingredients or substances. Commission Directive 2005/26/EC establishing a list of substances provisionally exempted was adopted by the Commission on 21st March 2005, following the opinions of the European Food safety Authority (EFSA) on each request. These provisional exemptions were granted until 25 November 2007. Requests for exemptions beyond that date required new requests from industry on the ingredients or substances for which temporary exemption was granted, that were submitted to the EC and evaluated by EFSA (available at As a result of this process, the Commission has recently adopted Directive 2007/68/EC (EC, 2007) establishing a list of substances permanently exempted form labelling (Table 5.10.1). It is to note that the lists of food ingredients or substances under either mandatory labelling or exempted form could be updated at any time based on new scientific evidence.