Allergen labelling has been a hot topic for the industry – but did you know there has been an update to the technical guidance published for foodservice operators within the past two weeks?
The latest guidance for allergen labelling issued by the Food Standards Agency follows changes for pre-packed for direct sale food.
These changes complement existing labelling rules on providing allergen information to consumers.
The changes, which are now enshrined in legislation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, will come into effect from 1 October 2021.
The changes were introduced after an earlier UK-wide consultation following the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse as a result of an allergic reaction to sesame in a baguette she had eaten.
The new requirements only apply to food known as prepacked for direct sale (PPDS), which is packaged onsite by a business before a customer selects or orders it from the same premises.
It means that PPDS food will be required to have a label with an ingredients list and the allergens contained emphasised on the list.
This brings the way allergen information is provided for it in line with other prepacked food and reduces consumer confusion.
Emily Miles, chief executive of the FSA, said: “Consistent and accurate labelling can be life-saving for those living with a food allergy or hypersensitivity. These new measures are vital as they provide information to hypersensitive consumers in a form that is familiar and convenient for them.
“Food businesses and enforcement authorities need to be ready for the rules coming into effect in October 2021 which the updated technical guidance on food allergen labelling will help them to do.”
Allergen best practice
Food business operators in the retail and catering sector are required to provide allergen information and follow labelling rules as set out in food law.
According to the FSA, this means that food business operators must provide allergen information to the consumer for both prepacked and non-prepacked food and drink; and handle and manage food allergens effectively in food preparation.
The FSA’s allergens checklist for kitchen staff includes the following:
– Are ingredients stored in sealed and labelled containers?
– If you transfer ingredients from their original packaging do you have a way of identifying the allergens present in the product?
– Are open ingredient packages stored in sealed containers where appropriate?
– Do you have a spillage policy to deal with spillages of one ingredient onto another ingredient?
– Do you have accurate recipe lists, so that there is a clear list of the allergens present in the food you serve?
– Do you have reminders in place to update records when you make recipe changes?
– Do you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water when preparing allergen-free meals?
– When an order comes in from an allergic customer, do you have a clear process in place to ensure that the food can be safely prepared and served to the correct customer?
– Are you aware of the allergens in garnishes, toppings, sauces or dressings so that you can avoid using them?
– Do you clean kitchen surfaces regularly so that there is no visible food debris or crumbs from other meals?
The 14 allergens
Food businesses must tell customers if they use any of the 14 key allergens as ingredients in the food and drink they provide:
- Cereals containing gluten – including wheat, rye, barley and oats
- Crustaceans – such as prawns, crabs and lobsters
- Molluscs – such as mussels and oysters
- Tree nuts – including almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million)
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