Allergen declarations, warnings, and advisory statements on food labels
Food labels must tell consumers about the risks of some ingredients to some groups of people, such as pregnant women and people with food allergies. Find out what to put on your label if your food or drink contains certain ingredients.
Update – 10 November 2021
In February 2021, the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code was amended to introduce new requirements for the labelling of allergens in food. These plain English allergen labelling changes will help people find allergen information on food labels more quickly and easily, so they can make informed and safe food choices.
Food businesses have 3 years from 25 February 2021 to implement the new requirements. During this transition period, businesses can comply with either the existing allergen declaration requirements in the food standards code, or the new requirements. We'll update the information and documents on these labelling and composition web pages to reflect the new rules.
Allergy statements on food labels
Some ingredients need to be avoided by certain people, such as people with food allergies and pregnant women. Some consumers also need to know some information about the food so they don't get sick.
There are 3 main statements that need to be included on a food label:
- Allergen declaration: Allergies to some food proteins (allergens) can be life-threatening. They must be listed on the food label if the food contains them, or if they were used when making the product.
- Warning statement: Only applies to some food. You must use the exact format and words outlined in the food standards code.
- Advisory statement: Must be provided for certain foods or ingredients which may cause health risks for some consumers.
Food allergens that need to be declared on your label
If your food or drink contains a common allergen or ingredient sourced from it, you must state this clearly on your label. The ones that must be declared are:
- tree nuts, including almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts, but not coconut
- sesame seeds
- shellfish (crustacea and molluscs)
- soybeans and soybean products
- wheat and other cereals containing gluten (like rye, barley, oats, spelt, and triticale).
Sulphites must be listed if added at 10 (or more) milligrams per kilogram of food.
There are no set words for declaring allergens on your label. You can choose your own words, but you must state the exact allergen. For example, "wheat dextrose" not just 'dextrose', 'lupin oil' not just 'vegetable oil'.
Food that needs a warning statement
You must include a warning statement if your food or drink is or contains:
- royal jelly
- infant formula products or infant foods
- a formulated supplementary sports food.
The statement must be in writing at least 3 mm in height or 1.5 mm in height on a small package (under 100 square cm).
For example, for royal jelly:
"This product contains royal jelly which has been reported to cause severe allergic reactions and in rare cases, fatalities, especially in asthma and allergy sufferers."
Food that requires an advisory statement
You need to put an advisory statement on your label if your food is or contains:
- bee pollen and propolis
- milk or milk substitutes made from cereal, nuts, or seeds
- unpasteurised egg products
- guarana or caffeine
- unpasteurised milk products
- additives known to have a laxative effect, for example, lactitol, maltitol, maltitol syrup, xylitol, mannitol, dorbitol, erythritol, isomalt and polydextrose
- aspartame or aspartame-acesulphame salt
- phytosterols, phytostanols or their esters.
There are no set words for advisory statements. You can choose your own words and the font size, so long as it's readable.
"Free from" statements
If you want to claim your product is "free from" an allergen (or similar words, such as "contains no nuts"), you must make sure it is true and not misleading. You must be able to prove allergen-free statements.
Extra rules for gluten-free statements on labels
Gluten-free means the food has:
- no detectable gluten
- no oats or oat products, or
- no cereals containing gluten that have been malted, or products of such cereals.
"Gluten free" is a nutrition content claim. The extra rules on nutrition content claims apply to gluten-free products.
Who to contact
If you have questions about allergen labelling, email firstname.lastname@example.org