How to ensure you on top of the new legislation for allergen labelling in food service

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As of 13th December 2014 all food services providers have to comply with new legislation to ensure consumers are provided with accurate allergen information. The list includes 14 allergens:

Here’s a few question and things to think about when complying with the changes:

  • Have your staff been given basic training on what allergens they should be aware of?

Hint – ensure all staff are aware of the 14 allergens and what to do if they are asked for information related to a dish you are serving

  • Have the ingredients in the dish been checked for the 14 allergens?

Hint – work closely with your suppliers to ensure they make you aware of any changes to the allergenic ingredients and update recipes/menus accordingly

  • Has the dish/food been prepared by someone that is Allergen Aware?

Hint – ensure the staff preparing the dish record any changes to the standard recipe so you can inform customers correctly

  • Was the food/dish prepared in an area that had been thoroughly cleaned down and prepared in accordance with established procedures?

Hint – Following an established procedure for clean down to segregate an allergen-free zone

  • Could there have been any ‘cross contamination’ during preparation of the food?

Hint – if there is a risk of ‘cross contamination’ use a kit to ensure your area is still allergen-free. This will provide you with recordable evidence that you have done everything reasonable to prepare an allergen free dish.

There are many ways you can communicate the allergen information to customers. A ‘signpost’ should be created which the customer will see before ordering food. For example, you could have a statement at the bottom of the menu with wording similar to ‘Before Ordering, Speak to Our Staff if you have a Food Allergy or Intolerance’. This will allow the customer to make your staff aware that they have an allergy and extra care should be taken when preparing their meal.

Hint – It’s a good idea to select someone or a few people to be your allergen ‘gurus’. These will be people on site that really understand the legislation and can find the allergen information.

Alternatively you could provide the information in the written format. This is a good idea if your menus do not change frequently – this way the customer can find the information for themselves and make an informed decision.

Hint – you could create an ‘allergen bible’. This could be a book of recipes including their ingredients. Your allergen ‘guru’ or even your customer can use this ‘allergen bible’ to find the correct information.

The new legislation means all food service providers, irrespective of size will have to supply the correct information to consumers. It is important to make sure your staff are trained, your recipes are kept up to date with allergen information and you eliminate the risk of cross contamination using necessary precautions.

Ultimately NEVER GUESS – this could have serious consequences as severe food allergies can lead to anaphylaxis which can be fatal.

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