Industry trade body UKHospitality has cautioned that new allergen labelling measures will be “impractical and potentially hazardous”.
The new measures, announced yesterday, will require all businesses selling pre-packaged food to include full ingredient labelling on products.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls blasted: “We understand the sensitivity around the introduction of the legislation, but we also think this is a retrograde step. Food safety is an incredibly important issue to our members and the entire sector.
“Many businesses have already taken voluntary steps to proactively deal with the issue and continue to do so. We take the matter very seriously and maintain high standards, but we are worried that this new legislation could be unwieldy, difficult for some businesses to implement and potentially dangerous.
Mrs Nicholls repeated previous assertions that the best way to raise awareness of allergens and keep customers safe is to promote an active dialogue between customers and businesses.
“That is why we recommended the promotion of voluntary labelling and encouraging customers to talk to the business and ask about ingredients and possible allergens. That way, we can build a relationship between consumers and team members that promotes mindfulness on both sides.
“We are worried that full ingredient labelling is going to prevent the kind of dialogue we need to promote. Some smaller businesses may struggle with the unwieldly new legislation and it is almost certainly going to lead to much less choice for customers. There is also a risk that the new measures, which will not circumvent cross-contamination and will be open to mislabelling, will only promote a dangerous reliance on labelling.”