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The New Allergen Legislation: What Restaurants Need to Know

Hospitality and Catering businesses based in the European Union (EU) need to be aware of a big change to the law around how products are labelled in regards to Allergens.

This change is coming into place in December 2014. It was published in October 2011, to give businesses like yours time to adapt, however if you are unaware of the change till now, you’ve a couple of months to understand and prepare yourself for it.

To help make it simple, we’re outlining the details of the change and how it’ll affect your business below:

The Change in The Law

From December 2014 allergen information must be provided for foods sold non-packed and/or pre-packed for direct sale.

Food which is sold loose or served out-of-the-home will also require clear allergen information to be made aware to consumers.

What This Means for Your Business

From December 2014 you will need to highlight 14 types of food allergen contained in the food you offer clearly on your:

  • menus
  • packaging
  • displays

These 14 allergens are:

  1. Gluten
  2. Peanuts
  3. Crustaceans and molluscs
  4. Tree nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut, cashew, pecan nut, Brazil nut, pistachio nut, Macadamia nut and Queensland nut)
  5. Soya
  6. Milk
  7. Sulphites and Sulphur dioxide
  8. Fish
  9. Egg
  10. Lupin
  11. Sesame
  12. Celery and celeriac
  13. Mustard
  14. Cereals containing gluten

Some allergens have been excluded from this regulation as they’re uncommon in the EU. They include:

  • Garlic and onion
  • Yeast
  • Chestnut
  • Pine nut
  • Coconut

Although you don’t need to highlight these particular allergens, you may wish to include them for the benefit of your customers.

If you have a set and regular menu, this shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for you. However, if you change your menu and dishes on a frequent basis (for example if you base them on fresh and in-season ingredients) you will need to update the information available to your customers when you update your dishes. This of course can add a time consuming task but it is essential that you do it. Try to find ways to manage this and automate it as best as possible – and put a system in place to make this information readily available for your customers.

It’s also important to educate your staff about the change to legislation so they’re also aware of what you customers need to know and how you must display the information in your restaurant.

Additional information to help you

This change is complex and it’s recommended that you look through the guidance which The British Retail Consortium and the Food and Drink Federation have produced. In this guidance, they set out clear criteria for educating your customers and details on how to declare each allergenic ingredient.

You can read the guidance here.

http://www.foodhealthinnovation.com/media/7157/guidance_on_allergen_labelling_2013.pdf

Kitchen Nightmares: Hygiene Regulations Many Restaurants Forget

Every UK restaurant, cafe, coffee shop and takeaway joint is rated by the Food Standards Agency here in the UK – the data of which is shared publicly. Not only that, customers are taking to social media and forums to ‘out’ restaurants they catch in the act of poor hygiene – naming and shaming and reporting to the authorities.

But many restaurants do try hard to adhere to food safety and hygiene regulations – so why are so many restaurants failing to hit the mark and why are so many failing to realise that they’re not up to scratch?

 

Well it turns out that some of the biggest causes of poor food hygiene and food poisoning are being ‘forgotten’ by many restaurants in the UK.

Food storage is one of the key problems when it comes to hygiene in restaurants – as food needs to be properly chilled and stored to stop bacteria growing and multiplying. If foods such as meat, dairy, cooked dishes, salads deserts and other ‘ready-to-eat’ dishes are left out at room temperature for a prolonged period of time (more than a couple of minutes), it can cause harmful bacteria to grow which is one of the the most common cause of food poisoning. All staff, including those serving foods and not just chefs, should understand the safe storage of food to prevent problems.

Reheating foods is another big problem for restaurants, especially if the labeling of foods to be reheated isn’t clear – as there’s a risk of reheating twice. Reheated foods should be steaming hot all the way through or reach a temperature of 70°C for more than 2 minutes. Foods which have been reheated but not eaten should be discarded immediately.It’s also important to ensure that the food is properly chilled and stored before it is reheated – as if its not bacteria can grow at a rapid rate.

Although many restaurants feel they are good at keeping the food preparation area clean, often the kitchens and areas are ‘surface’ cleaned only – meaning there’s lots of hidden dirt and germs building up behind equipment, underneath storage and getting caught in hidden places. It’s really important for restaurants to not only make sure the areas are well set up in the first place to aid cleanliness but that a deep clean is part of the daily routine and all nooks and crannies are paid attention too and not overlooked or ignored – as that’s where bacteria and infestations will occur.

It’s also worth noting that many restaurants have incredibly dirty mops (or similar tools) and that the equipment used to ‘clean’ isn’t clean itself! Damp mop heads can harbour germs and will spread them around the floor if not properly disinfected themselves. Ensure cleaning equipment is clean before use!

Cross contamination is also one of the most common and dangerous of kitchen nightmares. Keeping raw and cooked food separate, using separate equipment and washing hands between tasks and handling different types of food is paramount. Avoid spreading bacteria from raw food to cooked and to your guests by making sure your staff understand what cross contamination is, and how it can be avoided.

WorldHost – Fully Funded Olympic Standard Training for a Competitive Edge

Here at Free2Learn at Work we are celebrating becoming an official training provider for WorldHost Customer Service training for the hospitality and tourism industries.

WorldHost has long been recognised as one of the most prestigious customer service qualifications and is well-renowned across the hospitality, leisure, tourism and catering industries as a world-class qualification. The WorldHost training programme was inspired by the Olympics and was rolled out to thousands of the volunteers and staff for London 2012.

The qualifications offered by the WorldHost course are sought after by many hotel and restaurant employees and employers as a means of giving them the knowledge and training necessary to deliver their service at a superior standard throughout the customer journey.

With the rise of social media and online reviews, modern businesses have a whole new area of publicity to consider. Businesses need to ensure that the stories being told about them online are a positive reflection of their outstanding and personal service, where the customer was made to feel special – that’s where WorldHost training can help.

Training your team with a qualification like WorldHost will also increase their loyalty and job satisfaction and in turn reduce staff turnover and decrease recruitment costs. Also, if you are eligible for training with Free2Learn at Work then the training won’t cost you a penny either. What’s more, when you put more than 50% of your businesses employees through WorldHost training then you receive a WorldHost plaque and a listing on the official WorldHost website for two years as a WorldHost Recognised Business.

Topics included for your team on WorldHost training:

• Why customer service is such an important part of their role

• How to make an excellent first impression and make customers feel welcome

• How using customers’ names can help to create a good rapport, and techniques for remembering names

• Communication skills for success

• How to empathise with customers, and why handling their concerns is so important

• Why listening is an essential part of the customer service process, and how to do it effectively

• The value of tourism, and the important role they play in generating revenue for your business and the wider tourism economy

• How to ‘go the extra mile’ – including making five commitments on how they will do this in your business