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New guidance has been rolled out for food manufacturers, retailers and enforcement authorities on making a free-from claim on a product.

The document has been developed by the British Retail Consortium and the Food & Drink Federation, who said that, with the exception of gluten-free, there were currently no UK or EU rules on the use of free-from claims. They added there was also no publicly available guidance for businesses on making such claims.

The groups have worked with the support of Anaphylaxis Campaign and Coeliac UK to develop the new document, which includes an overview of relevant UK and EU legislation and suggests key things to consider with regard to appropriate manufacturing practices and when carrying out a risk assessment.

It specifies core principles for making a free-from claim, including: the recipe does not use any ingredients containing the specified allergen; the product is made in an environment following good manufacturing and allergen management practices; a robust sampling and testing programme must be in place; communication of a free-from claim to consumers, including labelling, must comply with relevant legal requirements.

“A ‘free-from’ claim cannot be taken lightly,” said BRC deputy food director Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, adding the guidance would help a small manufacturer understand whether producing a free-from product was within their capability.

“It will also result in more consistency, which means more consumer trust,” she said.

The publication follows the rollout of the FDF’s Gluten Labelling Guidance earlier this year.

“We are pleased our long-standing collaboration with the British Retail Consortium, Anaphylaxis Campaign and Coeliac UK is continuing to deliver useful advice to businesses and ultimately more consistent labelling for consumers,” said FDF chief scientist and policy & sustainability director Barbara Gallani.

Sales of free-from products rose more than £100m last year to £618m [Nielsen 52 w/e 3 October 2015]. 

The guidance can be found here.