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FSA proposes stricter rules on allergens testing.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has proposed new rules that would require retailers of pre-packed food for direct sale to visibly declare the presence of allergens in their products.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which is involved in a public consultation on the subject of allergens, said in a statement that it welcomed the FSA’s input and that its aim was to ensure allergy sufferers feel safe when making food purchasing choices.

The FSA’s proposal comes amidst the backdrop of a number of highly publicised allergen-related deaths at well-known food chains as well as a more general rise in allergy-related incidents in the UK.

These trends mean that both market forces and regulatory changes are likely to pressure food chains to cater more effectively to allergy-sufferers’ needs. However, the process is likely to increase costs for both businesses and consumers – Pret-a-Manger estimated that the costs associated with implementing allergen labelling across its stores would equate to 1 – 2 percent of revenue. This has prompted some industry bodies, such as The British Sandwich & Food to Go Association, to oppose the FSA’s proposals.

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