In time for the Christmas party season 2014, every restaurant, hotel, pub, take away, motorway service station, café owner and festival caterer, as well as schools, hospitals and prison meals services, will have to accurately track, record and communicate to the public what menu items contain any of 14 of the most common foods to cause allergic reactions, such as nuts, shellfish and eggs.
Some 8 billion out-of-home meals are served every year. With up to 2 per cent of people being food allergy sufferers and 20% of people believing they have some kind of food allergy according to NHS figures, there could be millions of requests for information for food businesses to deal with. The new EU regulations, which come into force on 13th December, seek to provide the public with better information about the foods they are eating. The British Hospitality Association is launching a guidance toolkit designed by its food advisory team, members and Bond Dickinson to help hotels, restaurants and caterers implement the new regulations and cope with these requests for information.
Jackie Grech, Policy Director for the BHA says: “These new regulations coming into force this autumn and will make it easier for people to get information about which allergies are present in the food they are eating out of home. Food businesses will be expected to learn how best to communicate these new regulations to their customers and the BHA is this week launching a toolkit, forum and workshops to help food businesses of all sizes.”
The challenge will be greatest for restaurants who frequently change recipe or menu items; pop-up or event caterers; establishments with high staff turnover; and smaller establishments who may struggle with the resources to track, identify and record all allergens used from main dishes through to garnishes and drinks. As a result, the British Hospitality Association has calculated that it could cost the industry up to £200 million per year to implement new sourcing and management processes, adapt menus and websites and regularly brief and train staff.