On-trade

Compulsory allergen labeling on menus by December

New regulations for all pubs and restaurants in relation to the compulsory indication of food allergens on menus comes into force next December.

The EU Parliament adopted the Food Information for Consumers Regulation in 2011 and it becomes law on 14th December 2014 when all foodservice outlets must have allergen information displayed about all food sold.

The actual Statutes on this allergen legislation have yet to be finalised here by the Irish Government but it’s understood that these will be made available by July.

As the legislation is compulsory, not voluntary, it means that foodservice operators must have all allergen information on the menu in a clear and concise manner with all food allergens highlighted by name in the list of ingredients as well as on all foods sold loose or eaten out of home.

Food outlets will have to provide information on up to 14 key allergens on its menu and in addition at least one member of staff must be knowledgeable enough to be able to answer any questions related to allergen content.

“There’s a big challenge to the industry coming down the line,” agreed Unilever’s Food Solutions Customer Director Jim Reeves who recently introduced The Allergens & Diets Guide for Professional Catering, UFS’s new free downloadable comprehensive and interactive ibook on the topic.

“It’s a challenge for us as well as we’re gong to be asked in pubs, restaurants, hotels, prisons, hospitals and fast-food outlets just how we can help prepare our customers for this?”

In addition to providing a comprehensive guide to the new legislation and what it means for operators and their guests, UFS’s free ibook service also provides a thorough overview of the 14 need-to-know food allergens.

The iBook can be updated as necessary and has been specially-designed for Irish and UK chefs.

It has also been designed as an easy read for accessing and dealing with the various allergens.

“The original 238 pages were honed down to 38 pages and the iBook functions as a good kitchen guide for anyone who wants to download it,” explained UFS’s Business Development Chef Mark McCarthy.

It also contains other useful pages such as ‘Your guide to safer recipe-writing’ and learning tests and provides a list of products that are gluten-free too.

“Chefs need to know that they’ve a plan in place for the consumer asking questions about allergens in food,” explained Mark, “Do they know, for example, when putting in an ingredient to any dish, what the allergen is?

“Do staff know how to correct a mistake?”

The new legislation stipulates that staff need to be able to answer any consumer queries regarding the food that’s served.

The iBook is available on UFS’s website http://www.ufs.com/allergens.

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