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What you need to know about allergen labelling

People who suffer from an allergy or food intolerance need to pay special attention to the ingredients in their food when shopping. To give those affected reliable information, the Swiss Foodstuffs Act requires the clear labelling of allergens in ingredient lists. The labelling also applies to additives and composite ingredients, such as spice mixes.

What are the requirements when declaring allergens?

Woman with shopping basket reads the allergen label on a bottle of juice
Declarable allergens or ingredients derived from them must be emphasized in the list of ingredients, e.g. underlined or in bold. In addition to clear identification, the declarable allergens must always be declared in the list of ingredients. This is also the case even if there are only small amounts of them in other ingredients: for example, "Seasoning (contains celery and wheat)" or "emulsifier (E322 from soya)".
In Switzerland, there are also the following rules regarding trace allergens when declaring allergens: in the event of possible contamination of more than one gram per kilogram of food, the note "May contain traces of ..." must be included. The limit for sulphur is 10 milligrams per kilogram and for gluten 200 milligrams.

Which allergens must be declared?

Regardless of the amount contained, the following allergens and products derived from them must always be declared:
  • Grains containing gluten (i.e. wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut or their hybrids)
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Soya beans
  • Milk (including lactose)
  • Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashew nuts, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts and Queensland nuts
  • Celery
  • Mustard
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites in concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/l, expressed as SO²
  • Lupins
  • Molluscs