Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL)

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How to communicate Precautionary Allergen Labelling (PAL) information to your customers using the ‘traffic light’ system.

You will know how paramount allergen information is to your customers who have serious food allergies.
But it’s important that you accurately record this information so customers can eat out at your premises safe in the knowledge that you are managing allergens within your business.

Why should I do this?

You do not need to write this information down to comply with the law but without it you have no due diligence defence in case something goes wrong.

Why is precautionary allergen labelling important?

As well as recording the 14 common allergens you should be thinking about the precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) on pre-packed foods. This is provided following a thorough risk assessment by the manufacturer during production to indicate that there may be a risk of allergen cross contamination.

Currently there are around 40 different variations used by manufacturers including ‘made in a factory that handles’; may also contain traces’ etc. however the Food Standards Agency now recommends that pre-packed food should only include one of the following statements regard PAL on the label:

  • ‘May Contain’, and;
  • ‘Not suitable for a person with a specified allergy’

Although this information is not currently mandatory it should be passed onto the customer so they can make a safe and informed choice about the food they are eating.
It is recommended that this information should be included in your documented allergen information.

Using the traffic light system

Precautionary allergen information can be recorded by using the traffic light system. Ensure that all your staff understand and are aware of it:

  • ‘Red’ for allergens
  • ‘Amber’ for ‘may contain’

You can record allergen information by using the allergen chart template available for free on the Food Standards Agency website by clicking on the link: allergen-chart.pdf
And by following the example below:
Allergen Chart Example