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Food laws in the UK

Legislation

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. We:

Example Food Allergies Policy
We:

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.

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