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FSA backs move for full ingredient labelling

Full ingredient labelling should be mandatory for all pre-packed food for direct sale, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has advised.

In a meeting with ministers, the board backed the move towards increased allergen information in order to give consumers greater confidence in the food they eat.

The proposal follows the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who had an allergy to sesame seeds and died after eating a sandwich from Pret a Manger.

The FSA strongly agrees with allergic consumers that full ingredient labelling would deliver a significant improvement, and greater consistency by following the same labelling system that consumers are familiar with, as found on packaged food.

If given the go-ahead by ministers, prepacked foods for direct sale - foods that have been packed on the same premises from which they are being sold - would need to to carry a label detailing full ingredients. For example, a salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase.

Currently, these foods are not required to carry labels and information on allergens, as it is expected that the customer can speak with the person who made or packed the product for this information.

The Food Standards Agency chair, Heather Hancock, said: “Food allergies and intolerance affects millions of people and its impact can be as big or bigger than almost all other foodborne diseases.

“That is why we have concluded that more extensive food labelling is the right outcome to provide greater protection for consumers but introduced in a way that we can be confident will work.

“While it is impossible to eliminate the risks entirely, we consider that this change along with other measures we are prioritising will deliver more effective protection for allergic consumers.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will have the final say on whether new rules are introduced.

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