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Allergen labelling is changing – how ready is your business?

Chef

With new regulations coming into effect this year making allergen labelling compulsory on food that is pre-packed for direct sale, hospitality businesses are being advised to set out a clear plan for the transition towards more transparent labelling.

From 1 October 2021, all pre-packed for direct sale food will need to have a label showing the name of the food item and a full ingredients list with the 14 allergens required to be declared by food law (emphasised on the ingredients list if present).

These 14 allergens include but are not limited to milk, wheat, sesame and soybeans and the ingredients label will be similar to those found on pre-packed food items sold in supermarkets.

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At present, the allergen information for these products can be provided by any means – it is not mandatory for this to be written down or appear on a label. This includes being informed verbally by staff.

These changes come following the public lobbying of Natasha’s Law – set up after the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to undeclared ingredients in a baguette which was pre-packed for direct sale.

The amendment to Food Information Regulations (FIR) will affect a number of businesses in the food service and retail industries, including cafes, fast food and takeaway outlets, and market stalls.

George Macfie, food safety technical lead at testing and certification specialist Bureau Veritas, says that businesses need to put in place clear and robust plans, to ensure they meet the new standard by October.

“The amendment to FIR will offer consumers transparent information on which they can make informed and confident choices about their purchase, and literally could help to save lives.

“The regulatory changes however now put even more onus on the business to get it right, taking the responsibility away from the customer (who at present may have to ask for allergen information).”

The amendments to the FIR will ensure allergen labelling becomes a permanent fixture on food that is pre-packed for direct sale.

This means that the food is packaged on the premises where it is being sold, pre-packed before the consumer purchases it and is either fully or partially enclosed in packaging.

Mr Macfie adds: “Key to ensuring businesses meet these new regulations will be implementing a robust plan and communicating this effectively throughout the business – from the development chefs and nutritionists who create the recipes all the way through to production and point of sale.

A chink along this chain could cause information to be misconstrued or misinterpreted, potentially leading to incorrect labelling and allergen information being displayed.

“New infrastructure will also need to be put in place and additional expenditure such as purchasing labels and also investing in quality printing to ensure the information included on the label is legible.

“It may also be that internal training is required – especially for businesses which operate in multiple branches or locations where there will be a large number of staff to get up to speed on the changes for business and their individual responsibilities.

“Central to all of this will be documented management oversight at every stage in the process, ensuring effective transition to the new labelling format of communicating allergens.”

Mechline is the Platinum Partner sponsor of the Kitchen Safety & Management category of FEJ Kitchen Excellence Week. For information about Mechline and its range of products, including the HyGenikx air and surface amplification system, call 01908 261511 or visit www.mechline.com/HGX

Tags : HyGenikxKitchen Excellence WeekMechlineSafety & Management
Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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