Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL) Explained

Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL) Explained

In this video, we’ll explore precautionary allergen labelling (PAL), a critical aspect of food safety regulations in the UK. PAL is a vital tool for protecting consumers with allergies from the potential risks of accidental allergen presence in food products.

PAL acts as a safety net for consumers with allergies. It informs them about the potential presence of allergens in a food product due to accidental contact during production, even if those allergens aren’t listed as ingredients.

Imagine finding a delicious-looking snack, but the label reads “may contain peanuts.” Even though peanuts aren’t in the ingredients list, PAL warns you of a potential risk due to cross-contact with equipment or ingredients used for other products.

Responsible PAL usage hinges on genuine risk assessment. Businesses should only use PAL when there’s an unavoidable risk of allergen cross-contact despite implementing control measures. This could include separating allergen-containing ingredients from others, following strict cleaning procedures, or using dedicated production lines.

However, certain situations can make PAL unavoidable. For instance, if a raw material supplier uses ingredients containing allergens and includes a PAL statement on their product, it might be carried over to your final product even after processing.

▶️ How to use PAL effectively:

• Specificity is Key: Don’t leave consumers guessing! Clearly state which of the 14 major allergens might be present. Instead of a generic “may contain nuts,” specify “may contain peanuts” or “may contain wheat.” This precision is crucial for consumers with specific allergies to make informed choices.

• Justification Matters: Back up your PAL claims with a documented risk assessment. This demonstrates a proactive approach to identifying and mitigating potential allergen cross-contact. Auditors may also request this documentation to ensure responsible PAL usage.

• Transparency is Paramount: Don’t make consumers hunt for the PAL statement. It should be prominently displayed on the packaging, ideally near the ingredient list. This ensures clear communication and empowers consumers to make safe choices.

The ultimate goal for food businesses should be to minimize the need for PAL statements altogether. This can be achieved through rigorous cleaning procedures, implementing validated allergen cleaning methods, and investing in thorough testing to ensure no allergen traces remain.

By demonstrating a commitment to robust allergen control, businesses can remove unnecessary PAL statements and build greater consumer confidence in their products.

Remember, food safety regulations are paramount. Always adhere to the Food Information Regulation 2014, which mandates providing consumers with accurate and precise allergen information. This includes using PAL statements responsibly and ensuring their transparency on packaging.

PAL, when used effectively, is a valuable tool for food businesses. It’s about managing risk, communicating clearly with consumers, and prioritizing the safety of those with allergies.
By following these guidelines, businesses can ensure their products are safe and inclusive for everyone.

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Monday, 24 June, 2024

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