Food allergy and packaged foods [250K — An allergy awareness project]

Food allergy and packaged foods

Always read the label

Food in Australia is required by law to display the most common allergens on its packaging. These include:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (e.g. almonds, cashews)
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Crustaceans (shellfish)
  • Fish
  • Soybeans
  • Sesame seeds and their products
  • Gluten and its products — and also state the source of the gluten (e.g. wheat)

Lupin has just been added to the list, so you will start to see lupin being labelled also.

In places such as cafes, restaurants, delis and bakeries, ingredient information should be displayed or given to you on request.

You are legally entitled to ask for allergen content information on foods not pre-packed or labelled.

Food made and sold in the same place does not require a label. However, staff must be able to tell you whether any of the most common allergens are present.

The 3 ways you might see allergens listed in an ingredients list

In Brackets.
Example: Wheat flour, sugar, margarine (contains milk), salt, flavour (contains wheat starch)

In Bold.
Example: Wheat flour, sugar, margarine (contains milk), salt, flavour (contains wheat starch)

In a summary statement often under the ingredient list.
Example: Wheat flour, sugar, margarine (contains milk), salt, flavour (contains wheat starch). Contains wheat and milk.

What about ‘may contain’ statements

Statements like ‘May contain…’ and ‘Made in a facility that also processes…’ are voluntary statements not required by law.

Manufacturers put these statements on their products to warn consumers that the product may have inadvertently come into contact with the listed food allergen.

If you are allergic to any of the allergens mentioned in a warning statement — avoid that food.

Food manufacturing practices and recipes often change, so always read the ingredients list every time you buy a product.

Reporting a reaction to packaged food

If you have an allergic reaction to a food after checking the ingredients list, it’s important to report your reaction to protect others.

Once you have managed your allergic reaction and recovered, you should report the reaction to the health department.

Information about who to contact and what to do is available from the following link:

Report a reaction