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

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