ITV news recently ran a report that uncovered an increase in the number of complaints raised about allergen labelling by food businesses. They wrote to every council in the UK asking them how many complaints they had received in the last three years regarding allergic reactions, 258 councils responded to their request. These councils reported that 368 complaints were made in the last three years and 166 complaints were made in 2015.
One Trading Standards Manager they spoke with said the main problem they come across is that some restaurant owners have very little knowledge of allergens or how serious it can be. The Anaphylaxis Campaign believes every member of a food service business team needs some understanding of food allergy and its possible consequences and that this should be incorporated into staff training. Members of staff, who serve meals to customers, need to be able to offer accurate information about ingredients and allergens.
” The statistics from this report are disheartening to see, it is vital that all food businesses not only comply with the current allergen legislation but understand just how serious severe allergies can be. It is crucial that food allergic individuals have access to food that is safe for them to eat, we will continue to work with the food industry to highlight how important compliance is.” Lynne Regent, Anaphylaxis Campaign, CEO.
What are the laws related to food business and the provision of allergen information?
Food business have the right to not serve customers if they do not want to, for example if they believe they cannot safely provide food for them, however if they do agree to serve you there are a number of different laws they must abide by, in reference to allergens:
- The European Union Food Information for Consumers Regulation which came into force on 13 December 2014.
- Information on any of the 14 allergens used as ingredients will need to be provided for foods sold without packaging or wrapped on site. This information should be available and easily accessible to all customers, it can be provided in writing, or given verbally, however there must be clear visible signs displayed to inform customers how to obtain allergen information.
What should I do if I believe a food business has served me food that contains my allergen after they said it did not?
The Food Standards Agency is responsible for food safety and food hygiene across the UK and it works with local authorities to enforce food safety regulations. You can report a food problem via the Food Standards Agency website here.
You will be asked for information relating to where you ate, what you ordered and what information you gave the food business in relation to allergens. This will all be then passed to your local environment health or trading standards team who will conduct the investigation. If you have a sample of the food you should let them know about this. The investigation will set to find out if the business was compliant with the allergen legislation.
Click here to read full ITV article.
If you have any further questions on this subject our Helpline team is available 9am-5pm Monday- Friday to provide advice and support. You can call 01252 542029 or email [email protected]