HomeConsum-actorsAllergens, widespread survey with the #DetectiveFood project

Allergens, widespread survey with the #DetectiveFood project

Food allergens, dangerous mystery. Food Allergy Italia launches the #DetectiveFood project, in collaboration with GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade) and Italian consumers. A bottom-up survey to collect images of food labels, loose food sales signs, menus and registers in public establishments where allergens are lacking or are indicated in a way that is unsuitable for accurately informing allergic consumers. Everyone to work!

Food allergens, the necessary news on the label

Starting with the 2003 the European legislator has introduced the duty of specific information, on all food labels, regarding the presence of a series of substances capable of causing allergies or intolerances, now listed in Annex II to Regulation (EU) no. 1169/11. The duty is extended to the hypotheses in which the allergens are present in derivative form (e.g. whey) or in traces, albeit due to involuntary contamination (so-called 'cross contamination').

The labels they must imperatively report the specific indication of the individual allergens present in the food. Which must be highlighted graphically, in order to be identified at a glance. It is forbidden to use generic indications (eg 00 flour), as well as to designate the single allergenic ingredient with the name of the category (eg dried fruit in shell, cereals containing gluten).

Report 15.4.19, 'It is intolerable' report by Cecilia Andrea Bacci.

The indication 'may contain' it must be equally precise in reporting only those allergens whose presence cannot be excluded, due to accidental contamination, despite the scrupulous application of self-control (good hygiene practices and HACCP). They must be excluded references to 'traces of ...', as this term has no legal (as well as scientific) meaning and can mislead consumers. And the use of phrases such as'produced in a factory where they are present (or 'you work) ... ' Since the information must refer to individual food products and not to the businesses where they are prepared.

Food allergens, the necessary news on sales signs and menus

The signs on display next to foods sold in bulk (for example in bar-pastry shops, bakeries and delicatessens, bakeries, ice cream parlors, vending machines) must communicate with the same specificity the presence of allergens on every single product on sale.

The menus and / or the appropriate registers available to consumers in bars, pizzerias, restaurants and trattorias, canteens, fast food and other public establishments, including itinerant ones (eg. food truck) and the caterers, in turn, must specify which allergens are present in each of the foods.

#DetectiveFood, the bottom-up survey

The #DetectiveFood project aims to carry out a 'bottom-up survey', on a European scale, thanks to the coordination of EFA (EEuropean Federation of Allergy and airways diseases Patients Association). Each of us is invited to participate by collecting detailed images of correct and incorrect information relating to the presence of allergens in individual food products on sale (whether packaged, pre-wrapped or sold in bulk). As well as on the menus and registers of the communities (public establishments, canteens, catering).

Let's all get on with it in the shoes of an allergic consumer, at least for one day. To realize how difficult it is still to understand if the foods and foods offered to us are safe in case of allergies to one of the 14 substances and ingredients listed in Annex II to the 'Food Information Regulation'(EU reg. 1169/11). Dwelling, in particular, on:

1) labels without information, or with unclear information on the presence of allergens (eg. 'contains gluten'. Which cereal?),

2) excessively generic signs or menus, where reference is made to the possible presence of allergens that have nothing to do with the type of exercise (eg. 'it may contain… fish, crustaceans, molluscs'in a pastry shop or ice cream parlor),

3) foods sold or served without packaging and / or without allergen information.

#DetectiveFood, how to participate in the survey

To participate in #DetectiveFood we are all invited to:

- take a photo of the food with its label, sign or menu,

- report the brand of the food or the name of the place / restaurant where you saw or bought it,

- indicate the city, the name of the shop or public establishment and its address,

- send the information by mail to detectivefooditalia@gmail.com

#DetectiveFood, the next steps

The bottom-up survey aims to collect at least 10/15 reports for each category of the following products:

- baked goods (bread, pizza, crackers, bread sticks, rusks, snack, biscuits, cakes, snacks)

- meat preparations e meat products,

- vegetarian and vegan foods,

- baby food,

- ice creams,

- sweets,

- drinks.

As many reports are expected on:

- sales signs / registers / books of ingredients,

- menus for restaurants and public establishments.

The information they will be collected with the dual objective of bringing out good labeling practices, which facilitate and improve the quality of life of allergy sufferers, and report irregularities to the competent authorities. (1) 

Join the crowd, only in this way will we be able to make everyone's voice heard and put an end to discrimination against the most vulnerable!

Updates will follow on GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade) and on the FoodAllergyItalia Facebook page.

# Égalité!

Dario Dongo and Marcia Podestà


(1) For further information on allergen labeling and related penalties - administrative and criminal - please refer to our ebook '1169 penalties. News on foods, controls and sanctions', up https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/libri/1169-pene-e-book-gratuito-su-delitti-e-sanzioni-nel-food

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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Marcia Podestà, lawyer, MMR, IT Law, founder and President of Food Allergy Italia, member of all international organizations dealing with food allergy and anaphylaxis (IFAAA, POC of the EAACI, EFA, GAAPP, EAT European Anaphylaxis Task Force) .


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