Tree nuts and the PEAL allergen labelling variation: Legal and scientific considerations

Tree nuts are one of the most prevalent and important food allergens, potentially affecting up to 3% of people worldwide, with variation in numbers due to age, region, or the way how the allergy is defined [1]. Mandatory labelling of tree nuts is one of the key elements of food allergy management in Australia [2]. A lack of clarity within the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Food Standards Code) regarding precisely which tree nuts must be declared as allergens, and the common industry practice of labelling individual tree nuts as a group in summary statements or precautionary labels [3], have been cited as some of the reasons for introducing new Plain English Allergen Labelling (PEAL) laws. This article addresses changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (Food Standards Code) in the implementation of new allergen labelling laws that concern the identification of tree nuts. These laws have resulted in a significant change to the allergen labelling requirements for food products to be sold in Australia. These requirements form part of a new regulatory regime, which became law on 25 February 2021, known as the 'Plain English Allergen Labelling' (PEAL) laws.