Allergen regulations – a few months in…

Legal and Policy Director of The Restaurant Association said: “The new food allergen regulations that came into force last December are about giving all diners access to reliable information on allergenic ingredients in dishes served out of home, for example hotels and restaurants, food stalls and festivals. Food allergies can cause very serious health problems making it difficult for sufferers to enjoy a ‘night on the town’.  Make no mistake, the food allergens regulation has been challenging and cumbersome to implement, especially for small businesses and it is fraught with practical difficulties. But, if it serves the customer, then it serves our industry too.

"A few months in and we are starting to see local authorities begin to rigorously enforce these new regulations and our role is to continue to help businesses get up to speed with the regulations, decoding them into practical, useful support for members. That’s why the British Hospitality Association, which includes the UK Restaurant Association created a Guidance Toolkit designed to help hotels, restaurants and catering businesses implement the new compliance measures without unnecessary fuss. It’s available free to all members and includes a toolkit, training notes and printable tools to use in your establishment."

Here are the Basics to compliance from the Restaurant Association:

  1. Ask your suppliers, in writing, for accurate information. It is their duty to supply you with full and accurate allergen information for all food supplied.
  2. Load up on staff training. Train staff on their first day and frequently thereafter.
  3. Label every allergenic ingredient in your kitchen.
  4. Ensure that all staff can identify which ingredients contain allergens or are allergens on their own.
  5. Record keeping is critical, failing to keep records of staff training or use of allergenic ingredients in food will render you incompliant.
  6. Give staff clear directions on allergenic ingredients in menu items or who on staff can provide them with that information, and how to respond to customer requests for allergen information.
  7. Exercise caution when cooking, serving and handling food for an allergen sufferer, implement strict cross-contamination policies and use extra care to serve the correct dish to the correct person.
  8. No excuses. Not knowing the allergens in dishes or knowing the law will not excuse a lack of compliance. You are incompliant simply failing to know whether allergenic ingredients are contained in one dish.
  9. Support is a phone call or click away, www.bha.org.uk
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