UK – The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has released the findings of its Retail Surveillance Survey, indicating commendable levels of compliance among UK food retailers, while also highlighting areas of concern related to undeclared allergens.

Conducted in October 2022, the survey targeted areas where potential risks were identified, with samples collected from both national supermarkets and smaller independent retailers, encompassing purchases made in-store and online.

Testing focused on detecting undeclared allergens, contaminants, adulteration, inaccurate composition, or incorrect labeling.

Of the food samples tested, an impressive 81 percent met regulatory requirements and adhered to legal standards.

Notably, 96 percent of items from larger food businesses demonstrated compliance. Furthermore, the data revealed a food authenticity rate of 97 percent, indicating the overall safety and integrity of the UK food supply chain.

Despite the majority of products meeting regulatory standards, concerns arose regarding the presence of undeclared allergens in certain food categories.

Approximately 16 percent of foods tested positive for undeclared allergens, with a notable finding of 27 percent of African spices containing undeclared peanut protein. Additionally, 17 out of 47 prepacked foods for direct sale (PPDS) were found to have allergens present without proper labeling.

Professor Rick Mumford, Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor & Deputy Director of Science, Research, and Evidence at the FSA, emphasized the survey’s role in aiding local authorities’ targeted food safety inspections.

Recent changes to food law practices enable authorities to adopt a more risk-based approach, focusing resources on businesses posing greater risks to consumers.

In response to the survey findings, the FSA has allocated funding for local authorities in England and Northern Ireland to conduct further sampling of pre-packaged foods for direct sale and spice blends to detect allergens.

The regulator reaffirmed its commitment to ongoing surveillance programs aimed at identifying emerging risks within the UK food system to ensure consumer safety.

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