A new European Union directive is threatening to force restaurants and caterers to provide a breakdown of all ingredients on menus.
The new rules, which come into effect in November, will make it compulsory to list certain specified allergens, including eggs, fish and peanuts, whenever they are used in pre-packed food and alcoholic drinks.
But the Food Standards Agency, which has launched the initiative in the UK, is considering extending the guidelines to non-packaged food, which would have a dramatic impact on restaurants and caterers.
The proposal was rejected by Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association. "A lot of these proposals are absolute nonsense," he said. "It would be completely impractical to label every ingredient on the menu, as recipes, quantities and sources change daily."