With effect from 13th December 2014, The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in conjunction with DEFRA introduced new allergen labelling laws, these are the Food Information Regulations EU1169/2011 (FIR Regs). These regulations affect all food service organisations, no matter what their size.
The new food law states that all food service providers serving unpackaged food or even food that is packaged on site for immediate consumption ( e.g. sandwiches) will have to provide details of any menu items that contain any of the top 14 allergens. Your local Environmental Health Officers will enforce the new regulations and non-compliance will result in very large fines.The new law states:
- You can no longer state that you don’t know if an allergen is present
- You can no longer state that all foods ‘could’ contain allergens (I.e. no more this product ‘may’ contain nuts)
- Oral statements have to be backed up in writing if requested
Have you done enough? Top Tips For The Food Information Regulations
The FSA has made clear the importance of the new Food Information Regulations and they have now become law but are you really doing enough to help your customers? In recent research carried out in only 8% of food establishments surveyed had the information obviously displayed to the customer. Generally there was little or no instructional guidance as to what the customer should do if concerned about allergens. In a truly customer centered organisation you should be ensuring their safety and well being and total experience of your service not just paying lip service to this justifiably important law. With 6–8 % of children having a proven food allergy in the UK (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2011), this is not an issue that is likely to go away.
Here are our top tips to make sure you are doing enough for the Food Information Allergen Labelling
- Make sure your staff are all fully trained and confident about their knowledge
- Make sure you are compliant, read and re-read the regulations
- Talk to your suppliers, how can they help you, ask for written assurances on their products
- By all means have the information available on your website but make it accessible in store too
- Don’t just add to the small print at the bottom of your menus. Make sure it is clear what action your customers should take.
While we do have a new range of standard catering signs to help communicate food information simply and clearly, if you are worried about how complying with the law will spoil the ambiance of your establishment, talk to us about bespoke labelling and signage products, we can help you create signage solutions that will ensure you are compliant, will help to build your brand but most of all will help customers to make informed and safe decisions on their food choices.
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