Every year there are a number of tragic deaths caused by severe food allergies that could have been prevented.
The Food Information Regulations came into force in December 2014. They cover the responsibilities of those serving non-prepacked foods (foods which don’t already have to contain a list ingredients).
All food business operators must ensure that customers are aware of any ingredients known to cause intolerances or allergic reactions. At the moment, unlike prepacked foods, non-prepacked foods do not require the allergen information to be in writing and can simply be communicated verbally to the customer by a member of staff. It can then be difficult to prove that the relevant information was correctly provided at the time.
Currently, the maximum fine for not complying with these regulations is £5,000, however there is a campaign in place to make it mandatory for food retailers to clearly display all allergen information and to provide more of a deterrent for non-compliant retailers.
There are 14 allergens that must be pointed out at present, which are:
- Cereals containing gluten (namely wheat, rye, barley and oats)
- Crustaceans (prawns, crabs, lobster, crayfish etc.)
- Soya beans
- Milk (including lactose)
- Celery (including celeriac)
- Sulpha dioxide/sulphates (where added and at a level above 10mg/kg or 10mg/l)
- Molluscs (mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid)
Ideally, if you are involved in the production of non-prepacked food, you should provide a written list of ingredients for each of your products which is easily accessible to customers. Implementing this simple process could save lives and protect your business from prosecution and the associated negative publicity.