The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has advised that increased allergen information should be provided on pre-packed direct sale food to give consumers greater confidence in the food they eat.

The Board also set out key priorities identified as part of an ambition to make the UK the best place for food hypersensitive consumers, which includes those with food allergy and intolerance.

At a public meeting, the Board agreed on advice for Ministers that full ingredient labelling should be mandatory for all pre-packed food for direct sale.

The FSA agrees with allergic consumers that full ingredient labelling would deliver a significant improvement, and greater consistency by following the same labelling system that consumers are familiar with, as found on packaged food.

Food Standards Agency Chair, Heather Hancock said: “Food allergies and intolerance affects millions of people and its impact can be as big or bigger than almost all other foodborne diseases.

“That is why we have concluded that more extensive food labelling is the right outcome to provide greater protection for consumers but introduced in a way that we can be confident will work.

Heather Hancock, FSA chairman: “We are not talking about every fresh sandwich being made in a sandwich shop.”

‘While it is impossible to eliminate the risks entirely, we consider that this change along with other measures we are prioritising will deliver more effective protection for allergic consumers.’

Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “It did attract some opposition from business.

“From public sector bodies there was a concern about the resources to help business comply with this rule and then to enforce the rule.

“From businesses themselves… there is a level of misunderstanding about what we are actually talking about.

“We are not talking about every fresh sandwich being made in a sandwich shop, so I hope that slightly reduces their level of anxiety.

“But we are balancing consumer protection, public health protection with the ability of people to deliver a good business service and choice to people who have got an allergy or intolerance.

“So our discussion today was very nuanced but ultimately this is a huge quality of life, and life threatening, issue for a proportion of the population and that is what we have fallen in favour of.”