If you have a food allergy or shop for someone who does, it is essential to carefully read the ingredient label on any pre-packed food you buy.
Food labelling rules in Australia state that the nine most common allergens (peanut, tree nuts, milk, egg, fish, shellfish, wheat, sesame and soy) must be declared on packaging. Some food such as foods sold fresh in delicatessens must either have ingredients displayed or have ingredients available in case a customer asks about allergen content.
Allergens and allergen warning statements are not always easy to find on a packaged food, and other words may be used to refer to the allergen, eg a milk product may be referred to as casein. Downloadable allergen cards containing alternate words for allergens and helpful hints are available for peanut, tree nuts, milk, egg, fish, shellfish, wheat, sesame and soy. Bookmark size cards are also available from our online shop.
Become a LABEL DETECTIVE when you buy food for your family. Be sure you:
Read all product labels every time you purchase a product. Food labels, ingredient listings and allergen warning statements change without warning;
While imported goods must comply with Australian food labelling legislation, mistakes can occur during translation. Use extra care with imported goods. Labelling requirements in some other countries are less stringent than Australian standards and there is a greater risk of incorrect labelling of imported products.
Remember to check labelling on both outer and inner packages –discrepancies have been found;
Check labels of products that come in different size packages as they may be different.
Don’t rely on products labelled as ‘Free from....’ Make sure you still read the ingredient list and allergen warning statement.
Food Allergen Consensus Statement
See Food Allergen Consensus Statement for PDF version
Content updated December 2020