The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) & Rising Allergen Recalls in the UK

Understand the RASFF’s role in monitoring the market and learn why mislabelling your foods can have dire consequences for your consumers and your brand.

The EU prides itself on having some of the highest food safety standards worldwide, and the RASFF spearheads this self-proclaimed “robust system”.1 The RASFF monitors the flow of information in the food industry and reacts swiftly to risks to public health by monitoring the market and sending out notifications to member states as soon as an alarm is raised.2 It also handles product recalls from all EU markets in an attempt to push for more consumer safety.3 Every year, the RASFF releases an annual report in which it publishes the most relevant and interesting numbers and activities from the previous year.4 “In 2018, a total of 3699 original notifications were transmitted through RASFF, of which 1118 were classified as alert, 493 as information for follow-up, 675 as information for attention, 1401 as border rejection notification and 12 as news notification.”5 Of these cases, 68.17% were attributed to mislabeling.6 For more information, view the RASFF’s full 2018 report online here.7

In recent years, allergen recalls initiated by the RASFF have included everything from LIDL squid that tested positive for salt crystals to Brioche chocolate chip roles that failed to mention soy as an ingredient on their packaging.8 According to foodnavigator.com, with 122 allergens recalls registered in the United Kingdom between January and October 2019, allergy recalls in the UK have risen by a staggering 20% this year alone.9 Oliver Morrison cites the successful introduction of Natasha’s Law, scheduled to come into effect in 2021, as one of the reasons for this crackdown.10 The law is named after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a teenager who passed away tragically in 2016 as a result of an allergic reaction to a Pret A Manger sandwich which did not list sesame as an ingredient.11 According to the Guardian, Pret ignored six previous complaints submitted by consumers who had allergic reactions to their ingredients but did not actively commit to ensuring clear allergen labelling on its foods until after Natasha’s death.12

Cases, such as Natasha’s, are not only harmful to the reputation of food manufacturers but first and foremost serve as a stark reminder that mislabeling can be life-threatening for consumers. Thus, at foodcircle, we urge all our customers to take the accurate labelling of allergens seriously. To comply with local legislation and protect consumers learn how to label your foods for the US and EU markets in our online magazine here.

References 

  1. https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/rasff_en 

  2. https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/rasff_en 

  3. https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/safety/docs/rasff_annual_report_2018.pdf 

  4. https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/safety/docs/rasff_annual_report_2018.pdf 

  5. https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/safety/docs/rasff_annual_report_2018.pdf 

  6. https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/safety/docs/rasff_annual_report_2018.pdf 

  7. https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/safety/docs/rasff_annual_report_2018.pdf 

  8. https://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Article/2017/11/06/Food-and-drink-recalls-photo-gallery 

  9. https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2019/10/08/UK-allergy-related-food-recalls-may-rise-further-after-Natasha-s-Law

  10. https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2019/10/08/UK-allergy-related-food-recalls-may-rise-further-after-Natasha-s-Law

  11. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-48752388 

  12. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/28/world/europe/uk-pret-a-manger-allergy-natasha-ednan-laperouse.html

Imagery courtesy of RASFF and unsplash.com

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