UK Food Laws
Food laws in the UK
Since 13th of December 2014, the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation has been in force. These are EU rules which are also enforced in the UK by the Food Information Regulations. This legislation requires food businesses to provide information on the 14 key allergens to their customers. Also, if a customer asks about an allergen not on the list, we must able to give the correct information regarding that particular ingredient.
Allergen information must be available either on the menu or in other written form for reference. How you present it is up to you. However, it must be easily accessible and clear. It is no longer enough to state, “All foods may contain allergens.” Information provided must be specific to particular allergens. If serving a buffet, each item must have its own allergen list. Not providing information or providing incomplete information about the products you sell can lead to penalties from the health authorities, and also legal claims from customers.
Allergens on the rise
These are not part of the compulsory list, however, it is worth noting the rise in the population reporting an allergy to the following products: kiwi fruit, bananas, peas, lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes, mushrooms.
How to Control Allergen Cross-Contamination
Guarantees are always difficult when dealing with foods prepared in areas that handle a range of allergens. However, putting certain procedures in place will dramatically lower the risk of cross-contamination.
One, effective cleaning/handwashing and equipment washing, using hot water and the correct cleaning chemicals followed by sanitization.
Two, separation of products. Covering foods with lids or clean film using clean knives and equipment for each job. Separate areas should be also used whenever possible.
Three, separation of cooking equipment. Make sure that different deep fat friers for different allergen-containing products. And also that pans and hot plates are cleaned thoroughly between uses.
Four, check packaging. Always check the packaging for breakages and potential cross-contamination with other products. Also, know any spillages of allergen products that may have contaminated and separate products.
Please remember that, even though thorough washing and sanitisation will help prevent contamination, cooking allergens at high heat, temperature, will not kill them. Allergens do not react in the same way as bacteria.
Five, staff allergies,. It’s worth noting that not just customers are at risk from reactions to allergens. Allergic reactions from staff are often overlooked, and it’s important to offer the support needed to avoid these products. It is also advisable to have a plan/ procedure in place in case of allergic reactions of staff members.
Example Food Allergies Policy
Recognize the potentially life-threatening risks that are associated with food allergies.
Comply with the requirements of the Food Information Regulations 2014 and other food law which may protect people with allergies and intolerances.
Document the allergens present in the foods that we serve by liaising with our suppliers and collating the information through ingredient specifications and labels.
Identify the specific allergens where we have groups of foods such as cereals, crustaceans, fish, nuts, and molluscs. Ask suppliers to ensure we are advised should there be any changes to the relevant allergen information.
Include relevant information where suppliers have identified their foods as may contain allergen contamination through risk assessment. In these circumstances, we ensure the customer is made aware.
Warn customers of the potential of cross-contamination within our food preparation areas and advise them what controls we have in place to reduce risks.
Provide clear and accurate ingredients information about the 14 allergens for every dish on our menu or unpackaged products and make sure it is available for all our customers.
Ensure there are trained staff/managers available on each shift to manage customer requests and ensure the correct food is served. (Training: CIEH Food Allergens Awareness e-Learning and/FSA Food Allergies e-Learning).
Ensure all members of staff know where the allergen information is kept and who provides it in the event of an inquiry.
Make sure all staff have received basic training about the procedures to follow in the event of a customer making an inquiry regarding potential allergens in foods.
Follow the correct procedure when preparing food for customers who have requested specific allergen-free food.
Regularly communicate all ingredient changes with our staff and customers.
Put into place an emergency protocol for allergic reactions.
Ensure only those individuals that have received specific training in the correct use of adrenaline auto-injectors are permitted to use them and only when they have been prescribed to a customer who is suffering from anaphylaxis.
Example emergency Protocol for Anaphylaxis
If someone is finding it hard to breathe or if their lips or mouth are swollen or if they collapse, you should:
Keep the person lying down with legs raised (especially if they are faint or dizzy).
(If they are conscious and having asthma or breathing difficulties, it may be better for them to sit up and lean over a table).
Call 999 immediately and state anaphylaxis.
Check if the customer has an adrenaline auto-injector and can self-administer into their thigh. Unless you have received specific training in its correct use, do not administer the auto-injector. The customer may have a family member or friend who can help.
Send someone outside to wait for the ambulance and stay with the person until qualified help arrives.
If a supplier has identified a cross-contamination risk with a particular allergen, then this should be made clear to the customer. It is also important to remember that potential risks from the preparation process and menu descriptions should always contain a statement like this: If you have any specific dietary or require allergen information, please ask your server. Please be aware that food containing allergens are prepared and cooked in our kitchen.
Customer Enquiry Flow
Manager is notified of a guest with allergies.
Manager talks with and clarifies customer needs. This is then relayed to the front of house and kitchen staff.
Kitchen must handle the order as mindfully as possible using different equipment and separation to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
Waiting staff must communicate to ensure that the correct food reaches the correct customer, referring to the manager if needed.
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