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Australia’s compliance changes seek to reverse allergen recall trends

Undeclared allergens have been the leading cause of food/beverage recalls in Australia for the past 10 years.  This is very similar to global trends, with undeclared allergens coming a close second globally over the same time period, just behind microbial contamination (most commonly Salmonella and Listeria).  

According to Mérieux NutriSciences global safety alerts digital platform SafetyHUD, the countries declaring the most allergen recalls during the last 10 years include Canada, USA, UK, Australia, Japan and parts of Europe such as Belgium (Figure 1).  Of those recalls, undeclared milk was the most common allergen causing a recall, followed by eggs, gluten and soy.  The top three food categories most affected by undeclared allergen recalls were ‘prepared dishes and snacks’, ‘confectionary’, and ‘cereals and bakery products’. 

Figure 1 – Global incidence of allergen related recalls, based on the notifying country.
Date range: 01 January 2011 – 01 January 2021.

These global statistics mirrored those in Australia, with undeclared milk also being the top cause for a recall, and ‘processed foods’, ‘confectionary’ and ‘breads and bakery products’ the top three food categories affected by undeclared allergens.

With one of the highest rates of food allergy in the world, it is understandable but also respectable that Australia is taking a lead in developing new measures to make the food source of an allergic consumer as safe as possible.  Proposed new labelling changes have been researched and developed over the past few years, designed to give consumers a much needed clear and consistent allergen message on pack. 

Manufacturers, food service and retailers will need to review their packaging, or suppliers packaging, and allergen information to ensure it complies with the new laws. 

Whilst there will be a three year transition period, this time passes quickly when you take into account running out old packaging stocks, necessary compliance consulting work to ensure labels are corrected to the new requirements, and design and printing timelines. 

As happened with the 2016 Country of Origin labelling changes, many companies left their changes to the last minute, causing lengthy bottlenecks with designers, printers and compliance consulting services.

Allergen management is a complex but important process to set up and maintain.  There are multiple aspects of the product lifecycle and supply chain to consider, and changes made to any part of these can affect the allergen status of a product.  It is a plan that requires ongoing management and an understanding of its importance by all involved.

The good news is that Mérieux NutriSciences Australia can help in all aspects of your allergen management plan!

Our dedicated teams across the country have years of experience to bring you the following services:

Laboratory testing – With our highly skilled staff and exceptionally high quality testing standards, we can cater to any of your allergen testing needs.

Label Compliance – We have a dedicated team of specialists with years of experience to provide consulting on product labels, including the new allergen labelling laws about to be approved by FSANZ.  Our team also conducts regular training sessions for companies on all aspects of label compliance.  Our global network offers label compliance covering most countries requirements, a huge benefit to companies exporting products to one or many countries.

Auditing – Our team of experienced and accredited consultants provide Allergen Management audits, assistance with the development of cost effective allergen control programs as well as environmental monitoring programs such as EnviroMap.

Ensure that your company is part of the solution, not part of the problem in what is considered a long running significant issue in food allergen compliance globally. 

Find your peace of mind by partnering with us to develop or review your allergen management plan.  Contact us via sales.au@mxns.com, or by calling 1300 000 990.  Visit our website for more information at www.merieuxnutrisciences.com/au

Our offices and laboratories are conveniently located in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.