Codex Alimentarius Approves Changes on Allergens, Pending Changes on Foods Sold Electronically
19 mayo 2023


Food labeling. The 47th Meeting of the Codex Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) was held from May 15 to 19, at which various issues related to food labeling were discussed. The meeting approved reforms to Codex standards on preventive allergen labeling (PAL), while projects on the labeling of pre-packaged products marketed through e-commerce and the labeling of food in multi-package format are still pending further study. The details of what was considered can be consulted in the following draft of the final report of the CCFL meeting. What was approved at the meeting will have to be ratified by the Codex Alimentarius Plenary, which will meet in November. The points adopted by the plenary will become a Codex standard and could be taken into account by countries in the region to implement national standards. In this regard, Codex has particular importance and impact on Central America, especially in El Salvador. 

On the subject of allergens, the CCFL focused on discussing the implementation of a global preventive labeling system (PAL) to establish consistent and clear regulations to help protect people with food allergies worldwide. A revision of the list of major allergens was also carried out, with the aim of including crustaceans, fish, eggs, peanuts, sesame and various nuts. According to the draft shared by the entity, the proposed revision was approved.

Regarding the discussion on the labeling of prepackaged foods in products marketed through e-commerce, the proposed draft seeks to ensure that consumers who buy these foods have the information they need to make decisions. In this regard, it proposes that the food information included on the physical label should also be included on the product information web page, respecting the current regulations on nutritional labeling in each country. Although the proposed draft was approved in general by the CCFL, some modifications will have to be addressed by a Working Group prior to the next meeting.

On the other hand, as regards multi-package labeling, the draft document discussed seeks to have a standard that harmonizes this type of labeling, in order to provide consumers with information on each of the products they purchase. In this regard, it is noted that there are no international guidelines on the subject, so there would be no difficulty in its implementation. In line with the latter, the CCFL agreed to initiate new work on the subject and to present the project document for approval at the 46th Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC46).

Other issues addressed by the CCFL focused on the presentation and discussion of the Proposed Draft Guidelines on the Use of Technology to Provide Food Information, as well as possible exemptions for food labeling in emergency situations and sustainability claims in labeling. The committee decided to postpone the discussion on trans fatty acids to its 48th meeting.

Next steps

The approved report will be sent to the Codex Alimentarius executive committee, which will be responsible for evaluating it for eventual approval, which would take place in November. At that time, the new recommendations on allergen labeling could be approved, which would establish them as Codex standards and could begin to serve as a guide for the countries of the region in terms of regulations.