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Allergens and labelling

Allergens are basically harmless, natural substances that only at a small minority of the population, gives a reaction of the immune system. There are no precise figures about the number of people with food allergies in the Netherlands. It is estimated that 1-2% of the adults and 1-3% of the children have a food allergy.

Food allergy or food intolerance

The terms food allergy and food intolerance are often confused. In food allergy the immune system reacts (too) heavily on certain proteins (allergens) that occur in food. For patients who have a food intolerance, the symptoms occur after ingestion of food, but the immune system is not involved.

Allergic reaction

By exposure to very small amounts, allergic reactions can already occur. The symptoms are usually restricted to small physical reactions such as temporary skin disorders, anxiety and/ or vomiting. In a few cases these reactions are extremely heavy and the consumer can come in a state of shock (anaphylactic shock) and even die. So it is clear that allergens are dealing with food safety!


Because even very small concentrations of allergens can cause a reaction, cross-contamination or allergens at production lines are seen as a problem. Cross-contamination by allergens within the food manufacturing companies have become an important item. According to both the current labeling legislation (Commodities Act Decree labeling food products) and the new to implement regulation (EG 1169/2011) allergens should be listed on a label of a packaged food product. The new regulation goes further because also at the case of bulk products for the end user, the allergen information has to be provided. Within these regulations the allergens are mentioned as the 14 EU mandatory allergen.

Possible cross-contamination for example using the same lines, machinery etc. does not legally has to be mentioned. The market shows that potential cross-contamination is indeed a hot item. Consumers can already get sick because of small traces of allergen. There is more and more attention given to potential cross contamination. They don’t only look to the production line, but also to the entire factory.

Sonneveld has a management of allergens. You can read everything about this at questions about quality.
BRC Halal Kosher RSPO Skal

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