Australia’s VITAL system for allergen labeling was recently launched by the Allergen Bureau, according toQuality Assurance Magazine.

This Australia- and New Zealand-based cooperative organizations includes food companies such as Heinz, Kraft, Nestle, and Kellogg’s. The objective of the organization is to share information about managing food allergens within the food industry, with the overall goal of making sure consumers receive consistent and easily understood information on food packages.

VITAL, which stands for Voluntary Incidental Trace Allergen Labeling, was initially launched in 2007. It has recently undergone a full scientific review, which resulted in the launch of VITAL 2.0 at the start of 2012. Through mid-March, VITAL 2.0 is being pilot tested by companies who are members of the Allergen Bureau. The organization expects the final form of VITAL 2.0 to be launched in April, after feedback is received during the pilot phase.

The VITAL system involves a ‘traffic light’ system for labeling potential allergens on packaged foods. The system helps companies to determine whether the allergen level is ‘green,’ in which no precautionary statement such as ‘may contain nuts’ is needed on the package. If the risk falls into the ‘yellow’ level, the product needs a ‘may contain’ label. If it is red, the product must warn that it contains the allergen.

Once the VITAL 2.0 system is adopted, it is expected that the ‘traffic light’ system will be used by a number of other countries. Currently, it remains up to the manufacturer to decide when a ‘may contain’ allergen label is needed.

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