How do you recognize allergens in a product? How do you know which bread, biscuit or snack contains egg or nuts? What is it on the label?
The European Union has determined that the ingredients that cause the most hypersensitivity reactions (the 14 food allergens as stated below) should be extra clearly identified for the consumer.
Top 14 Food Allergens
Where can you find allergen information on a label?
These 14 allergens must be clearly and explicitly stated on every food product label in Europe. In principle, it should therefore be simple to see what your child can and cannot do if he or she has an allergy.
A label is made up of a nutritional table and an ingredients specification , the latter being relevant for allergy sufferers.
Which allergens are in a product can be seen on the ingredient specification
To know which allergens are in a product, we have to look at the list of ingredients on the label. The 14 allergens must be listed specifically and in a different font, so that it is immediately clear which allergens are in it.
The allergens are often printed in bold, underlined, in capital letters or in italics.
Another way to indicate allergens on a label; is the separate listing of allergy information. This is actually even better, as it will be written out for you.
What does "traces of" allergens mean on a label?
Some companies also mention it if there are "traces of an allergen" in the product. With this they warn that other allergens may also have been used in the same production location and therefore there may be traces of them in the product.
Allergen legislation in the catering industry
According to the Labeling Act, every catering entrepreneur has been obliged since December 13, 2014 to provide allergen information to guests who request it. This applies to lunchrooms, restaurants and snack bars; but also for bakers and butchers.
There is an obligation for both packaged and unpackaged products to be able to inform consumers about allergens present.
So feel free to ask for an allergen specification or oral advice!
It is of course always risky to go out to dinner with an allergic child; also because there may be cross-contamination.
Always call the restaurant ahead of time to discuss and make sure you have an adrenaline pen handy.
Food allergies in the rest of the world
The above 14 food allergens must be listed on food labels in Europe.
Some allergies are more common in certain geographic areas, probably caused by differences in dietary patterns. For example, sesame allergy is common in the Middle East and celery allergy in the Mediterranean area, but less in our regions.
In addition, in some parts of the world wheat or gluten are not designated as legal food allergens, but pork, peach or mango, for example.
Useful apps and tools for people with a child with an allergy
There are also apps that allow you to scan a label (in different languages) and see if it contains an allergen. Soosee is an example of this.
Food Allergy Foundation
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Royal Horeca Netherlands