Learn about the requirements for manufacturing food products containing allergens.


  • Learn about the 11 allergens that must be listed on packaged foods.
  • Food products contaminated with allergens not listed on the label will be recalled from sale.
  • When you use allergens you must follow good manufacturing practices.

Allergens must be listed on packaged food labels

An allergen is a protein that can cause serious illness or death for some people and is found in common foods.

There are 11 ingredients, additives or processing aids that have allergens and have to be listed on food labels. They are:

  • peanuts
  • tree nut
  • milk
  • egg
  • wheat
  • lupin
  • soy
  • crustacea
  • sesame seeds
  • sulphites
  • fish.

This is required by the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code.

Meat or seafood products must be recalled from sale when they have allergens not listed on the label. This can happen when allergens used on site contaminate other food products during manufacture. For some people, a very small amount of the allergen in food can cause anaphylaxis. This is the most severe form of allergic reaction.

It is up to food businesses to make sure:

  • food products have accurate labels
  • all allergens are declared in the final product
  • there is no cross contamination during manufacture.

Hospitals in Victoria report cases of anaphylaxis caused by allergens to the Victorian Department of Health who will investigate. To learn more about the requirement for hospitals to notify the Victorian Department of Health go to Anaphylaxis notifications.

Requirements for unpackaged food 

For unpackaged food, businesses need to be able to tell their customers exactly what is in the food. This can be verbal or written. 

Good manufacturing practices to manage allergen risk

When making products with allergens you need to follow good manufacturing practices:

  • Segregate allergen containing foods, ingredients and processing aids from non-allergen foods, ingredients and processing aids.
  • Process allergen-free products before allergen containing products.
  • Wash surfaces, equipment and utensils after processing products containing allergens.
  • Thoroughly clean surfaces before swabbing and testing.
  • Colour code equipment and utensils when many allergens are present on the premises.
  • Label every product that contains allergens.
  • Review ingredient supplier specifications to assist in product labelling.
  • Educate and train staff on food allergen risk and allergen management.
  • Handling of food products when they are being reworked or processed again.

PrimeSafe’s role

PrimeSafe maintains an allergen compliance surveillance program. This includes zero tolerance of the improper use of sulphur dioxide (SO2). Note that only sausages and sausage meat has a prescribed maximum limit of SO2 (500mg/kg).

PrimeSafe conducts the following compliance activities:

  • audits of food safety programs
  • surveillance
  • management of complaints
  • communication with the Department of Health on cases notified.