EU General Rules for the Labeling of Prepackaged Food (Part 3)


Allergen Label

Food allergy sufferers need to be very conscious about food and choose them carefully. In order to avoid allergies, it is crucial to look at the list of ingredients. The 14 "major allergens" - responsible for most of all food allergies - are always labeled in the ingredients list. Clear labels ensure that consumers can easily identify the allergenic potential, e.g. soup SEASONING (CELERY, MUSTARD) or COUSCOUS (WHEAT). They must be visually emphasized, for example, by bold print, CAPITAL LETTERS, or underlining. The 14 main allergens are:
- Cereals containing gluten
- Nuts (tree nuts)
- Crustaceans
- Lupine
- Eggs
- Mollusks
- Fish
- Celery
- Peanuts
- Mustard
- Soy
- Sesame Seeds
- Milk and lactose
- Sulfur dioxide and sulfites

In addition, many manufacturers indicate the so-called "may contain" or "trace" labeling. These are basically optional indications of unintentional inputs of allergenic substances into the food that cannot be avoided technologically with absolute certainty. ‘Trace’ therefore does not mean that traces of allergens actually be contained in the food. However, it cannot be ruled out with certainty and the consumer is informed about this possibility.


Quantity Label

If an ingredient is mentioned in the name of the food or highlighted by illustrations, there is an obligation to indicate its percentage of the food. This quantity labeling of ingredients is also intended to enable consumers to make comparisons with other foods. It, therefore, refers to the value-giving ingredients. In the case of a hazelnut muesli bar, the proportion of hazelnuts is indicated. The information on whole grain and cereal ingredients is additionally provided on a volitional basis.


Food Additives

Food Additives are also ingredients and must always be stated in the list of ingredients. Because they are often used in small quantities, they are usually listed last. The substance is named with its function, e.g. sweetener aspartame. Since the chemical names of additives are sometimes quite long, they can be replaced by their E-number, i.e. "E 951" instead of aspartame.

Every substance is given this E number when it is approved. "E" originally stood for Europe, today it stands for "EU".

Manufacturers should only use additives that are tested and approved to be safe for health. This applies equally to all 28 member states of the EU. In addition, additives are only used when they are technologically necessary.

A total of over 300 substances are currently approved as food additives. They are used to achieve certain technological effects, e.g. to improve the consistency of food, extend shelf life or facilitate processing. They are indicated by the following class names, which describe their function in the food:
- Antioxidant
- Baking Agent
- Emulsifier
- Colorant
- Firming Agent
- Humectant
- Filler
- Gelling Agent
- Flavor Enhancer
- Complexing Agent
- Preservative
- Flour Treatment Agent
- Modified Starch
- Acidifier
- Acidity Regulator
- Foaming Agent
- Antifoaming Agent
- Melting Salt
- Stabilizer
- Sweetener
- Propellant
- Release Agent
- Coating Agent
- Thickener

Click this link to access the appendix on food additives:


ZMUni: Stay tuned for more information on this topic!

Information source:

Food Federation Germany. (2019). Lebensmittelkennzeichnung verstehen -. Lebensmittelverband Deutschland.

Post a Comment