Last night we collaborated with FoodAllergyUK’s #allergyhour in an effort to help spread the word of the new EU food regulations and answer your questions. It was a huge success, with a flood of queries coming in from people confused about how it affects them as a consumer and as a business.
The new regulations, which take effect tomorrow, mean information about allergenic ingredients must be made clear on pre-packed and non-pre-packed foods. They also require cafes and restaurants to provide information on allergens to customers in a written or verbal format.
This is an extremely positive change and one we are welcoming. However, as with any change, it has sparked some confusion, with some areas causing particular trouble.
So, we’ve decided to create a quick FAQ guide to help clear up a few of these particularly difficult areas.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign’s FAQ Guide to the new EU Food Regulations:
What changes will the new Food Information Regulation bring?
The new legalisation will require food businesses to provide allergy information on food sold:
Unpackaged – i.e. in catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars. This can be given in written or oral form.
Pre-packaged – There will also be changes to existing legislation on labelling allergenic ingredients in pre-packed foods. The 14 major allergens will be highlighted in the ingredients list (e.g. in bold) with a minimum font size set for all mandatory information on labels. The ‘contains’ box will be disallowed, however food companies/manufactures can still use voluntary ‘may contain’ labelling.
Where can child-minders get advice?
http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/caterers/startingup/childminders is a great place to start to get information on how the new regulations apply to child-minders and what to do. There are also some related pages at the bottom of the page that should shed more light too, should you need it, including a food safety pack in the first link.
There has been limited communication and inconsistencies in advice given by local authorities to businesses. Where can I go to find further information?
Contact FSA (Food Standard Agency) if there are any queries as they are the front of knowledge in this regard and can help clear up any inconsistencies or miscommunications http://www.food.gov.uk/
I can’t find much consumer information. What has industry and Government done to communicate this legislation to the general public?
FSA have an online sandwich shop, which aims to be a one stop shop for finding anything you need to know. You can follow this link to find it on their website http://www.thinglink.com/scene/598466789940133888
There is also a handy FSA guide to the 14 allergens –
And you can also visit our website www.anaphylaxis.com to find out more information i.e. https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/living-with-anaphylaxis/news/new-eu-food-information-regulations-what-you-need-to-know-for-13th-december-2014
Where can businesses get advice from/training? Are there any examples of how a food business could display their allergen information?
Some pubs and restaurants have chosen to use a clever digital signage to allow customers to browse the menu items and discover further information, including allergens contained within the food. http://www.digitalsignagetoday.com/news/uk-pub-and-restaurant-puts-digital-signage-on-the-menu-to-tackle-new-eu-allergy-information-laws/
The FSA website also has a guide on what businesses can do, including information for small/medium businesses too – http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/allergy-guide
Why is this information being given orally in UK and not just written like in Ireland?
Businesses and catering outlets still need to provide written evidence to support what they are saying orally, so you should expect that both will be available. Staff will also be trained to give this information orally to prevent any miscommunications or errors. There will also be a sign up in restaurants/ pubs etc. stating that allergen information can be obtained from staff members.
Do school fetes/ cake sales have to comply?
If you are a charity or community food operation not required to register as a food business, you don’t have to provide information for consumers regarding allergens. However, we recommend as good practice that anyone managing charity operations consider the risks.
Community and charity food operations that are registered food businesses will need to comply with the new regulations. More information about allergens can be found via the link below. This is for charity operations not registered as food businesses as well as registered food businesses.
Individuals who are not a food business and occasionally provide food for i.e. cake sales or charity events do not need to comply. This is stated by the FSA on page 7, section 4 and 5 of the following link – http://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/food-allergen-labelling-technical-guidance.pdf
However, if the event is regular (one a month or more) and has a degree of organisation then you will need to check the FSA to get information on how these rules apply to you.
Who is going to enforce these regulations and what is the fine if businesses were to break the law?
Trading Standards and Environmental Health are the main bodies enforcing the regulations.
Depending on the district/borough or county it will also be enforced by local councils.
The fine will be around £5,000
“A person found guilty of an allergens offence under FIR 2014 will be liable to a fine. There is currently a limit of £5,000, but, when it is commenced, section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will convert that maximum fine into a fine of any amount. It will be for magistrates to decide on the fine level in particular cases. Section 85 of the 2012 Act is expected to be commenced later in 2014.”- http://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/food-allergen-labelling-technical-guidance.pdf – P34 section 100.
- For more information don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our helpline: 01252 542 029
- The FSA’s website also provides a vast amount of information
- FSA Food allergen rules for consumers
- Information on who needs to comply to the new regulations