Food: Allergies

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 2nd July 2021.

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Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of issuing financial penalties against companies who have to recall food items due to not disclosing allergens.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The Food Information Regulations 2014 already provide for criminal sanctions including fines in respect of non-disclosure or incorrect information around the presence of allergens in food. While some cases of undisclosed allergenic ingredients will be detected by enforcement officials, it is often the company themselves who detect and notify authorities of an issue while simultaneously withdrawing the affected food from the market. Imposing a penalty on the basis of the product withdrawal and recalls rather than the dangerous non-disclosure of allergenic ingredients would potentially hamper the current high levels of transparency on this issue. This in turn could lead to an increased risk to consumers and their safety should the threat of penalties deter notification of non-compliances to authorities and subsequent communication of the risk to consumers.

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