‘May contain traces of … ’
Around 25 percent of the Dutch population has a food allergy, believes he or she has a food allergy or lives with an allergic consumer. There is a need for clear, complete and reliable information. I sigh whenever I see a label that excludes every responsibility with just one sentence: ‘‘May contain traces of … ’.
Fortunately, retailers demand that suppliers have their allergen management in order. Cross-contamination in the supply chain must be substantiated by the standards of Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labelling (VITAL). This means that a label will only include a warning if there is a solid foundation to do so. Simply excluding allergens from a label is now a thing of the past. A favourable development!
The VITAL-programme is a standardized risk assessment process for allergens in the food industry. Conducting the risk assessment helps a company to substantially evaluate the allergen status of ingredients and the treatment circumstances that contribute to the allergen status of the end product. VITAL also ensures continuous monitoring and verification of the risk assessment process. This renders it possible to immediately deal with possible changes in the level of risk.
The VITAL-programme is designed to share allergen information with the consumer in a simple manner. In other words: VITAL provides clarity on the label.
The Foundation SimplyOK has developed a certification scheme for the purpose of assessing the allergen management system of a company in practice. It is not a ‘contains no’ quality mark, but it offers buyers a guarantee of a solid foundation. The packaging states all of the allergenic ingredients used. This is obligated by law. When SimplyOK is used, this information is supplemented by a warning only if there is truly a risk of cross-contamination with an allergen. The risk is assessed on the basis of the VITAL-system, giving it a scientific basis. If an allergen is not mentioned as an ingredient or as an allergen warning, then it can be safely consumed by someone with that allergy. A logo of SimplyOK will be available in the future for companies that successfully complete the audit (source: SimplyOK).
take action now and train with an Approved VITAL Trainer, so that you can apply the new calculation and requirements in the correct way!