On the 23rd March 2020 the government announced that all restaurants, pubs and cafés would have to close as part of measures to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The government has temporarily relaxed planning rules for these food businesses to allow them to diversify and offer foods via distance selling methods during this time.
This means that many food businesses will be selling takeaway foods for the first time and potentially may not be fully aware of the distance selling regulations that apply for the provision of allergen information to the consumer and the correct management of allergen hygiene within a delivery business model.
Unfortunately, deaths such as that of Megan Lee, aged 15, who died in 2017 after suffering a severe allergic reaction to takeaway food contaminated with peanut proteins, demonstrate that even under normal circumstances there is much work to be done to improve allergy awareness and standards in the takeaway industry. Food businesses must ensure that their new delivery services comply with allergen regulations to avoid putting their customers at risk.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign has taken swift action on this issue and written to nearly 300 local authorities to highlight the possible risks for allergic individuals of businesses changing to a new service model with very little notice and no previous experience.
We have provided local authorities with links to the relevant training and resources to pass on to the food businesses that they register and inspect as well as detailed information for food businesses on our website COVID-19 pages.
We have also highlighted the need for extra vigilance when ordering takeaways to our members and supporters on our website, in our e-newsletter and across all our social media channels to raise awareness of this issue. Read our Ordering takeaway during COVID-19 tips for individuals.
A popular clip from a previous campaign below, highlights the importance of always asking the question. #EasyToAsk
If you have any concerns that any food business is not complying with allergen hygiene or information regulations, please report them to your local Trading Standards. You can find contact details for your local trading standards using this link.
Anaphylaxis Campaign CEO, Lynne Regent says:
“This is a very difficult time for many food businesses as they struggle to navigate these unprecedented times. However, it is vitally important that they do not overlook correct allergen hygiene and information requirements as they adapt to new ways of working. Sadly, there have been too many tragedies as a result of food businesses getting it wrong, so we will continue to campaign to raise awareness of severe allergies and improve the regulation of food businesses both during this crisis and in the future.”
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