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NVWA: “Allergen information must be improved”
Information about allergens must be improved, is the verdict of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) after inspecting nearly 13,000 suppliers in the retail, artisan (food) and hospitality sectors. The investigation showed that 60% of the food companies did not give their customers adequate information about allergens present in their food or dishes. Do you want to offer food or dishes containing fewer allergens? If you do, Dutch Spices’ allergen-free herb & spice mixes, sauces and marinades are an ideal choice.
A slight improvement, but allergen knowledge too limited
In 2022 the NVWA inspected companies in the retail, artisan (food) and hospitality sectors. Although the regulator did see a slight improvement in the provision of information, for example, on the menu, when questions about what was in the food were asked the available knowledge was, in most cases, limited. This is bad, because for some people with a food allergy or intolerance not having adequate and accurate information about what allergens have been incorporated in the food can be dangerous. The NVWA is going to continue actively monitoring the provision of allergen information and will talk to the branches about how they can draw more attention to this issue.
Conclusion: there is still a lot that needs to be improved
The inspections showed that six out of ten companies did not inform their customers properly. Companies that did not meet the requirements faced enforcement action in the form of a written warning or a fine. The results of the inspection of allergen information in the hospitality sector will be made public from April 2023. In a later phase the results in respect of the artisan (food) and retail sectors will also be made public.
Results in 2022 compared to 2021
Results in 2022 compared to 2021 The end of the COVID pandemic meant the NVWA was able to carry out far more inspections in 2022 than had been possible in 2021. Although this means the figures are not totally comparable, it can be concluded that there has been hardly any improvement.
Artisan sector (includes bakers, butchers and ice-cream parlours):
- 2,256 establishments visited
- 48% met the requirements
- About the same as in 2021
Hospitality sector (includes restaurants, hotels and cafeterias):
- 9,407 establishments visited
- 41% met the requirements
- A slight improvement (2021: 35%)
Retail sector (includes supermarkets and tokos):
- 1,171 establishments visited
- 38% met the requirements
- Worse than in 2021 (2021: 59%
Healthcare institutions (includes hospitals and nursing homes):
- 65% met the requirements
- Slightly better than in 2021
Providing information about allergens is a legal requirement
Allergens are substances in foodstuffs to which some people can have an allergic reaction. These reactions can vary from mild to life-threatening. EU legislation designates 14 substances as allergens. The Law also specifies how the allergen information must be given to the customer.
For unpackaged food products, the category these investigation results deal with, the legal requirement is that the allergen information must be available to the customer on request. This is applicable for, for example, food service/hospitality companies, butchers, bakers, greengrocers, fish shops and stalls, ice-cream parlours, healthcare institutions and caterers. They can provide the requested information via shelf cards, menu cards or orally (information provided orally must be verifiable in writing for customers who wish confirmation). The principle is that customers must have access to this information before they buy so that they can make a food-safe choice for themselves. If the food is pre-packaged the allergen information must be on the label and the name of each allergen incorporated in the product must stand out clearly from the other ingredients in the list of ingredients (for example through use of a different typeface, formatting style or background).
Make sure you are prepared for an NVWA inspection
Do you want to reduce your worries about allergens in your food? If you do, opt for the allergen-free seasonings from Dutch Spices. Our herb and spice mixes, sauces and marinades are guaranteed not to contain any of the 14 substances legally designated as allergens and the absence of any cross-contamination is ensured in accordance with the SimplyOK certification. If you would like to know more about reducing allergens in food please feel free to contact us for advice. This will enable you to always inform your customers correctly regarding allergens in your food and you will be well prepared for an NVWA inspection.
NVWA: Allergeeninformatie moet beter bij bedrijven in retail, ambacht en horeca (Allergen information provided by retail, artisan (food) and hospitality companies must be improved)
NVWA: Allergenen op etiket levensmiddelen (Allergens on food product labels)
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