Restaurants and caterers need to prepare for major changes to food labelling legislation that will see certain allergy information become mandatory.
Current food labelling laws for the foodservice industry will change from December 2014, meaning all operators or suppliers offering food items on their menus for the end consumer will need to provide allergy information.
The legislation means that specific food allergens listed within the EU regulation FIR 1169/2011, including peanuts and gluten, must be highlighted.
As a result, the hospitality and leisure industries will no longer be able to simply state ‘they do not know if an allergenic food ingredient has been used', but instead will be required provide clear information about the food allergens contained in their menu items.
Allergens will need to be highlighted on their menus, packaging, and displays. Verbal information can be provided by the staff; however, backup written confirmation of the details will be required and can be requested by the customer at any time.
The 14 allergens that food businesses and venues will need to declare to the customer in order to comply with the new EU FIR 1169/2011 laws are:
1. Gluten containing cereals
7. Tree Nuts (such as walnut, hazelnut, almond etc.)
14. Sulphur dioxide
Food allergy sufferer Caroline Benjamin aims to educate businesses about the changes. She is one of an estimated 21 million adults in the UK who have at least one allergy, and she became so frustrated with bad eating out experiences over the last 12 years she set up the Food Allergy Training Consultancy (FATC).
She commented: "The changes in the provision of allergen information, which will need to be in place by December 2014, will mean significant changes for all food service businesses.
"Even large companies who already have allergen policies in place are making mistakes with mis-labelling and not communicating properly to the customer. It may seem insignificant to some, but to a food allergy sufferer it can really mean the difference between life and death dependant on how they are affected.
"My aim is to highlight the changes in the EU law and help the hospitality industry to become ‘Food Allergy Aware' and avoid prosecution."
The FATC will offer training and consultancy to food businesses to cover allergens, intolerances and coeliac disease, and as part of this has organised a conference and ‘Free-From' food exhibition, which will take place at the Novotel Hotel in Southampton on 22 October 2013.
Industry experts from the Food Standards Agency, the Anaphylaxis Campaign, Reading Scientific Services, Trading Standards, and Foods Matter & Freefrom Food Awards will feature at the conference to demonstrate best practice and outline risks associated with food allergens
For more information, please visit www.fatc.co.uk