Navitas Group has welcomed the Food Standards Agency’s backing of mandatory full ingredient labelling for foods that are pre-packed for direct sale, arguing that operators could comply with such a ruling for “less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day”.
The FSA board last week opted for the most stringent of four options offered in a recent consultation on amending allergen information labelling.
If ministers pass the law, operators who prepare food on-site would need to list all ingredients used. Any of the 14 specified allergens still present in the food must be emphasised to stand out in the ingredients list.
Trade body Hospitality UK has opposed the advice, claiming that mandatory labelling would be expensive and cumbersome for many smaller food businesses.
But Ben Gardner, CEO of Navitas Group, which specialises in food safety management solutions, said companies would be able to comply relatively cheaply.
“Of course foodservice businesses may be concerned about the cost of the complying with full ingredient labelling. However food safety systems in general and allergen labelling solutions in particular are not prohibitively expensive even for smaller foodservice operators.
“For a standalone allergen labelling solution we’re talking about far less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day. That has to be worth it to give reassurance and peace of mind to customers with food allergies that their food purchases are correctly and accurately labelled.”
Mr Gardner said that when it comes to food safety, Navitas’ advice to customers and those in the foodservice industry has always been to take a proactive approach and aim to exceed any regulations to remain one level above compliant.
“We’ve been advocating better allergy management, greater allergy awareness and tackling potentially unsafe food allergen labelling with our food safety monitoring and allergen labelling platform for some time and so very much welcome the FSA’s ruling on full ingredient labelling,” he added.
Navitas has been working with specialist allergy consultant Nathalie Newman and she agrees that open and honest communication and sharing of all ingredients used enables the consumer to make an informed decision as to whether something is safe for them or not.
She said: “Nowadays it’s not just about the top 14 allergens, many are affected by allergies outside the top 14, which aren’t currently declared. It makes it very difficult for them to eat out safely, or to buy prepared food that is suitable for them. This ruling by the FSA is a step in the right direction for consumers, and we must hope the government continue the momentum.”
Navitas’ allergen labelling solution allows foodservice businesses to print bespoke labels with specific information on the allergens present, together with the date and time the food item was prepared. Its software keeps a record of all label information and the details of the staff member who produced it, along with a date/time stamp ensuring transparency, traceability and accountability.