FOOD and drink producers in Ludlow and south Shropshire are being warned that they need to be aware of changes to labelling regulations that come into force before the end of the year.

Shropshire Council’s public protection service is highlighting that changes to food labeling will soon come into effect.

A new EU Commission Directive has brought into force the Food Information to Consumers Regulation, which comes into force on Saturday, 13 December 13. This will allow consumers to have clearer information about the food they are eating.

This legislation covers business operators at all stages of the food chain when providing information.

There will be new requirements for mandatory information to be available and easily accessible for all foods, for the legibility and clarity of the information, and there will be a new minimum font size.

Nutrition information at the moment is optional, unless a nutrition or health claim is made or a vitamin is voluntarily added. The way this information has to be presented will also be in a new format.

The labelling of allergenic ingredients will also have to be done in a prescribed format and information will need to be available not only for pre-packed foods but food sold loose and through takeaway restaurants. The unintentional presence of allergens can be caused by cross contamination, and this is covered under the Food Safety Act and general Food Law.

Although food allergies are rare it is thought about 2% of adults are affected and 8% of children under the age of three.

People with food allergies have to be extremely careful about what they eat. Food labeling is therefore very important to those with food allergies, as there can be potentially serious consequences from eating food to which they are allergic.

Allergies to foods are probably the most frightening forms of allergic reaction, with symptoms ranging from very mild to the severest form, anaphylaxis.

If a severe allergy has been identified, it is important that the sufferer should avoid even tiny amounts of their trigger food or substance.