Allergens, food packaging and labeling

Food Safety SupervisorIf your business operations include packaging food, the Food Safety Supervisors  have a responsibility to ensure that the process including the packaging material and labelling, do not compromise food safety.

Certain foods can cause some people to have allergic reactions which can vary in severity from mild upsets to severe anaphylactic reactions. It is important that you are able to identify which of your products contain allergens.

You must declare the presence of allergens in these foods either on the label (if the food is packaged) or in another way, such as on a menu or verbally upon request.


Foods containing allergens may cause severe reactions in sensitive people; common allergens include:

  • Gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley and oats and from foods containing these products), crustacea (shellfish) and crustacea products, egg and egg products, fish and fish products, soy beans and soy bean products, peanuts and other nut products, milk and milk products, sesame seeds and sesame seed products, and sulphites more than l0mg/kg

  • Foods may become contaminated with allergens if processes aren’t followed

  • Staff who are unaware of a customer’s allergies may serve food containing allergens

  • Incorrect, contaminated or damaged packaging materials may not offer adequate protection for food if it comes in contact with chemicals, and may compromise the safety or suitability of the food being packed

  • Unclean packaging material may contaminate food

  • Some food types can react with or be contaminated by some types of packaging material, for example: some packaging material may not be appropriate for acidic foods

  • An unclean packaging area may contaminate food being packed

It is important that labels contain information about the ingredients included in the product you are packing and labelling. Ingredient labelling is particularly important for persons suffering from food allergies.

Food Safety Supervisors should refer to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code and other informative material on food labelling from Food Standards Australia New Zealand.