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Food Allergies: Introducing PEAL

Have you noticed a change in the way food allergens are listed on packaged foods lately? For children, residents and families who live with food allergies, there is a welcome change improving the way food allergens are listed on products, called PEAL. Food allergen declarations now must be clear and consistent to help everyone make safe food choices. This is mandatory, bringing a sigh of relief for families, Aged Care Homes, Childcare Centres and everyone preparing and serving food for people with allergies. This came into effect in 2021, however officially from 2024 you will see the changes in action. Let our team explain further…

Food Allergies: Introducing PEAL Plain English Allergen Labelling

What is PEAL?

Plain English Allergen Labelling or PEAL.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) have updated the laws on allergen labelling for foods that can cause severe allergic reactions. This new allergen labelling law is called PEAL. Food allergen information will now be in a specific format and location on all food labels, therefore making it easier for everyone to read. All packaged foods are required to follow PEAL.

PEAL timeline for Plain English Allergen Labels

What has changed under PEAL?

Food allergens are no longer grouped together

There are set names that must be followed with PEAL, keeping food allergens simple and consistent for all involved with food. The three previously grouped food allergens were:

  • TREE NUTS. The term ‘tree nut’ cannot be used. Individual tree nuts must now be declared separately, such as Walnut, Pistachio, Pine Nut, Pecan, Macadamia, Hazelnut, Cashew, Brazil Nut or Almond.

  • The term ‘Cereals containing gluten’ is gone. Labels must now list the gluten-containing cereal, such as Wheat, Barley, Oats, Rye and Gluten.

  • Fish, crustacea, and mollusca must also be separated. Fish can no longer be used to cover all three allergens.

These changes are very welcome. Due to the risk of having an allergic or an anaphylactic reaction, certain foods have been avoided by allergy sufferers up until now. For example, food stating ‘CONTAINS TREE NUTS’ with no further detail would have been avoided for someone allergic to only pine nuts. Now they could safely consume foods containing tree nuts if pine nuts are not listed.

Other changes:

  • Going forward, the food allergen is “Milk” not dairy. The use of common names like cream or butter will not be declared as an allergen. An example of the correct format will be, Cream (Milk) as it is the cream that contains the allergen milk and not cream as the allergen itself.

  • Terms like seafood and shellfish are also not to be used. Must be Fish, Crustacea or Mollusca.

  • The generic terms of nuts cannot be used. It must be specific to which nut.

Here’s the official list that the code has allowed under the new Plain English Allergen Labelling.

Plain English Allergen Labelling official list
Plain English Allergen Labelling

NEW specific format and location of food allergens on labels

Creating the same specific format for how food allergens are declared on labels will make things easier for consumers. All food allergens will be declared within the ingredient list and within the Allergen Declaration statement.

  • Allergens must be declared in bold every time they appear in the ingredients list.

  • An Allergen Declaration statement, starting with the word ‘Contains’ (in bold), must be included underneath (or alongside the ingredient list) on the label. The Contains list must be distinctly different to the ingredient list with same size or bigger font than the words in the ingredients list.

  • If a ‘May Contains’ statement is required, this must appear on a separate line.

Take a look at this example below.

example of the PEAL Plain English Allergen Labelling

Three takeaways from the introduction of PEAL

Always read the food label.

We cannot stress this enough. Manufacturers can change ingredients and processes at any time. Read every packet you purchase before serving to someone with allergies. Allergens in foods can change without you knowing. Secondly, because stock can be sold up until Feb 2026 with the old food labels, products will be updated between now and then. Luckily some products are already starting the new PEAL method but not all. Even if you have bought that product before, read the food label before serving to someone with allergies.

Educate everyone involved with food

Within an Aged Care setting, its not just kitchen staff that handle food in some way. Staff may either serve food, prepare food, cook food or clean in food areas. This is same with within a Childcare setting, nearly every staff member touches food in some way. This is why it is crucial everyone knows the importance of food safety, preventing cross-contamination, which foods contain allergens and which child, or resident has what allergy.

For more information on our Food Allergen training, click here.

Unfortunately, “May contain” is still voluntary.

To give complete peace of mind, it would be amazing if ‘may contain’ statements were mandatory for manufacturers. But this is not the case right now. ‘May Contain’ is a warning stating that during the manufacturing process, there’s a chance of cross-contamination between products with food allergens and food without. Meaning products that do not contain peanuts in the ingredients can be on the same production line as food that does, therefore there’s a potential that it ‘may contain’. It is rumoured ‘may contain’ warning statements will be mandatory one day.


For further food safety information for Childcare Centres and Aged Care Homes, please contact our team (03) 9560 1844. We’re here to help you.


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