allergy label

Tougher EU rules on food labelling have resulted in 60% more food and drink products being pulled from shelves due to unreported allergens, research has found

There were 96 allergen-related withdrawals and recalls in the UK last year compared with 60 in 2014, according to analysis by commercial law firm EMW. 

Supermarkets and manufacturers have ramped up food testing and reduced allergen contamination margins to avoid breaking new EU food reporting standards introduced in December 2014, EMW said.

This has resulted in more products being recalled - with potential financial losses for individual companies running into the “hundreds of thousands”, it warned.

“The recent and seemingly heavy-handed crackdown on food manufacturers regarding allergen labelling has undoubtedly put a massive strain on the industry,” said EMW consultant Sebastian Calnan.

“With a large upswing in the number of food items being removed, food producers have to be extremely aware of the tough EU criteria to ensure they do not fall foul of the legislation and suffer from any subsequent losses to revenue.”

In addition to paying out costs for logistics, communications, product destruction, retailer reimbursments and legal fees, companies forced to withdraw food and drink products face reputational damage and the loss of customer loyalty, he added.

“Loss of market share during withdrawal is a growing issue that companies have to face. Businesses increasingly have to put contingency strategies in place to be able to respond quickly and efficiently to allergen withdrawals, which in addition to the direct costs, can be extremely expensive and burdensome.”