Over 100 restaurateurs sign allergen protest letter
More than 100 restaurateurs, hoteliers and catering professionals have signed an open letter protesting at the "bureaucratic nightmare" of new EU regulations on allergens.
The regulations, which were introduced in December 2014, require businesses to identify, record and clearly communicate the presence of any of 14 allergens in a dish or drink, aiming to provide the public with better information about what they are eating and drinking.
Businesses face fines of £5,000 for any infraction of the rules.
The changes are estimated to be costing the industry an estimated £200m a year and chefs criticised them for "reducing spontaneity, creativity and innovation" in a letter to the Mail on Sunday, published at the start of this week.
Signatories to the letter, organised by campaign group Business For Britain, included Great British Menu judge Prue Leith, Albert Roux OBE, Richard Bradford (former chairman of the Restaurant Association), Jeremy King (director, Corbin & King), Mark Hix (founder, Hix Restaurants), Thomasina Miers (co-founder, Wahaca) and Luke Johnson (chairman, Patisserie Valerie).
Johnson said: "It is vital that those in the restaurant business speak out against these new rules, which are imposing substantial costs on the sector and placing jobs at risk.
Miers added: "It is a total fiasco and in my view is the responsibility of the allergee to ask, no the restaurateurs to list. I had a severe allergy for six years so coming at it from both sides of the fence."
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Business for Britain, said: "This is a costly overreaction from Brussels using a regulatory sledgehammer to crack a nut. Diners with allergies can and should be able to eat out with allergies, but this has unfairly placed too great a burden on the catering industry which will hurt customers, and in particular small independent businesses. These rules have come straight from the EU with little debate or warning at home. They are unaccountable to diners and businesses across the UK."
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