‘Free From’ Food Packaging – Why Is It So Important?

It isn’t that long ago that supermarket shelves full of ‘Free From’ foods were just a dream. For the many thousands of people that in some cases suffered from life changing food allergies and intolerances, they were struggling to find a range of foods they could eat every day. It is estimated that, in the UK alone, approximately 2% of adults and 8% of children suffer from these conditions. However, in December 2014, the law was changed to reflect the way in which food businesses were required to provide information on allergens. As such, this improved the lifestyles of consumers whose food allergies and intolerances were considered to be a day-to-day struggle.

‘Free From’ Food Packaging - Why Is It So Important?

Consequently, many brands have been advised to ensure that all allergen information is listed on any consumable products. With the right food labelling, any brand can launch their Free From product, but where did it all start?

History

Although Coeliac is mentioned as far back in history as the time of Aretaeus of Cappadocia, an ancient Greek physician, it wasn’t until the 1940’s that the connection was made regarding the role carbohydrates played in causing the symptoms. The same can be said for other allergies, they have been around for a long time, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that experts were able to pinpoint exactly which ingredients were the major culprits when it comes to food intolerance.

The Free From market has, in a relatively short space of time, grown beyond what could possibly have been envisaged as people take positive action to control their symptoms. It is now worth a staggering £530 million with predictions that by 2020 the market will have grown to £673 million.

Food Allergies & Intolerances

When people think of Free From packaging and the products it relates to, the biggest ones are Gluten Free, and dairy free. However, there are in fact 14 allergens. The rules on allergen information mean that when buying food to eat out you have the right to ask if any of the allergens may have been used, and if this information is not known every attempt should be made to find out. When purchasing packaged food, it is required that any allergens be highlighted either in bold, Italics or colour so that they are easy to see. These are the 14 allergens you will see mentioned:

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten (wheat rye, barley, oats)
  • Crustaceans (prawns, crab, lobster)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lupin (a common garden flower, the seeds of some varieties are sometimes used to make flour)
  • Milk
  • Molluscs (mussels, oysters)
  • Mustard
  • Tree nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews pecans, pistachios)
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (preservatives used in some food and drink)

So, why is correct food labelling so important to consumers?

The Right Packaging

With so many of these food allergies and intolerances having serious health issues for sufferers it is really important that all products are labelled correctly, therefore allowing consumers to choose the right product for their diet.

Free from foods often have rather striking packaging, which helps them stand out clearly, and of course they often have their own specific space in the supermarket so that they can be located easily.

But if you are looking to launch your Free From product and appeal to the audience make sure your packaging is as perfect as can be.