All restaurants and food businesses will have to alert customers to the presence of 14 allergens anywhere on their menu from tomorrow (Saturday 13 December).
The cost of implementing the new EU regulations is thought to be around £200m a year, placing a considerable burden on operators at a difficult time of year.
Earlier this month, a survey by Caternet claimed that only one third of food and beverage (F&B) managers were 100% ready for the changes.
The regulations, which require businesses to identify, record and clearly communicate the presence of any of 14 allergens in a dish or drink, aim to provide the public with better information about what they are eating and drinking.
The move is expected to be a significant challenge to restaurants with frequently changing menus, pop-up or event caterers, businesses with a high staff turnover and smaller eateries in particular.
NHS figures estimate that around 2% of the population are food allergy sufferers, with 20% of people believing they suffer from some sort of food allergy.
Jackie Grech, legal and policy director of The Restaurant Association said: "The new food allergen regulation should give all diners across the EU access to reliable information on ingredients served in out of home, for example, hotels and restaurants, food stalls and festivals.
"Food allergies can cause very serious health problems, making it very difficult for a limited few to enjoy a ‘night on the town'. In this industry success is measured one customer at a time. Make no mistake, the Food Allergens Regulation will be challenging and cumbersome to implement, especially for small businesses and it is fraught with practical difficulties. But, if it serves the customer, then it serves the industry too."
The Restaurant Association has launched a guidance toolkit designed to help food businesses manage the new regulations, which can be found at: www.bha.org.uk