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Allergen legislation

It may seem like a distant memory now, but in December 2014, EU regulations came into force stating that that all caterers must provide their customers with information across 14 types of major food allergens.

Food Information for Consumers legislation requires food businesses to provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged, in for example catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars. So, even if you only provide a small amount of unpackaged food, you will need to provide this information and update it every 30 days.

As a reminder, we thought we’d provide you with an easy five-step summary on how you can ensure you’re following the guidelines and keeping your customers at the forefront of your business.

Times are changing

AllergyUK.org reported that approximately 1% of adults and 5 to 9% of children in the UK now suffer from some form of food-related allergen or intolerance, with a reported 10 people a year dying as a result of a major food intolerance or reaction. These statistics should not be ignored, not least because of the potential damage they can cause to a business’ reputation if they are.

Check!

With the EU regulation now having been in force for the best part of two years, it’s probably a good time to check all your menus, and then check them again. Do they state the 14 types of major food allergens and if you have a restaurant, kitchen or catering facility are all these allergens clearly listed somewhere for everyone to see? Do you update them regularly? Remember, the EU ruling states they should be updated every 30 days.

Get a system in place for checking, train your staff

If you’re not completely confident that your staff (whether they’re in the kitchen or front of house) are up to speed with the regulation and would be able to offer advice should they be asked for it, then train them. There are lots of free online tools (see below) that you can use, or get an expert in. Speak to your food suppliers and local allergen specialists and they’ll be more than happy to come in to give your staff a re-fresher.

Keep up to date, ask your supplier if you’re not sure

Has anything else changed? You should be asking yourself this question often. Keep up to speed with industry updates and any changes in regulation by registering for newsletters, following social media accounts such as The Food Standards Agency on Twitter as @foodgov and regularly monitoring industry press for the latest news and developments.

 Stand out from the crowd

Although the changes in regulation mean a continued investment in updating menus, both on and offline for food outlets, hotels, restaurants, caterers and takeaways; it also presents itself as a perfect opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

In an article on the Coeliac website it states that people with coeliac disease alone make up one in every 100 people in the UK, resulting in a potential untapped market of £100 million, according to Coeliac UK.

Gluten is also a very well known allergen now and presents itself as an opportunity for capturing another virtually untapped market. Why not consider doing specifically tailored menus or a ‘gluten free day’ as part of your standard offering?

To find out more about different food allergens, you can complete an online training module and access lots of useful information on the Food Standards Agency website, http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/allergy-guide/allergen-resources.

Don’t forget you can also sign up to receive news and updates from Greetwell Purchasing Solutions too on our website.