The new Allergen regulation – and how to stay on top of it | Macro

The new Allergen regulation – and how to stay on top of it

allergen_regulation

By Kathy Matthews, Events & Communications Manager

This week is Allergy Awareness Week, organised by the British Allergy Foundation to raise attention to the plight of the allergy sufferer.  The theme for 2015 is ‘Living in Fear’, which aims to highlight the real impact that severe allergies have on the lives of those suffering.  There is an estimated 10 million adults, in the UK alone, suffering from one or more allergy. 

In December 2014, new regulation came in to force to ensure that all consumers are given comprehensive ingredient listing information, making it easier for people with food allergies to identify ingredients that they need to avoid.  This covers foods that are non-packed or pre-packed for direct sale.  And it doesn’t stop there, further legislation will be introduced in 2016, requiring the calorie content of all food to be displayed; and there may be a further requirement to show nutritional values too. 

Kathy Matthews, Events & Communications Manager at BG Groups world headquarters in Reading discusses the approach taken on her site, which led to their catering partner being awarded the only FSA approved Allergen Accreditation award. 

“We launched the new labelling system, five months ahead of the December 2014 deadline, but we started planning a year earlier.  Every single ingredient of every recipe had to be examined.  It was hard work, but worth it.  Once analysed, all of the menus, table cards, and shelf-strips had to be updated to correctly include the reference to the allergens.  (The full list of the 14 new allergens is given below).  

But just displaying the information wasn’t enough.  We wanted to ensure our teams and our customers fully understood the changes.  We carried out training for all of our catering staff, from the chefs’ right through to the Front of House team.  This was the most powerful aspect of the project as it made everyone more conscious of what goes into the food; not just the chefs, but the hospitality team, staff that serve and clean, and those working in the shop.  Armed with the knowledge, the teams were able to answer people’s questions, providing exceptional customer service. 

For customers, the changes mean that allergen ingredient information is provided in a clearer and more consistent way, making it easier to make safer food choices.  We also ran an Allergen and Food Labelling Discovery day with customers.  Our catering partner, Artizan, gave a talk and this was all backed up by a poster campaign and takeaway leaflet. 

This is all supported with clear, consistent information in the form of menu cards, shelf-strips, hospitality menus, labelling and information cards. 

Briefings are now held daily on the menu choices, with the Front of House team and the chefs are on hand to answer questions. Refresher training will also be run to pick up any further changes; including those that come into force on 1 May regarding the small amendments to the terminology used  (for gluten and nuts). 

We are now working towards the changes that are coming in 2016, that require the calorie content of all foods to be displayed, and have already achieved this is several of our catering outlets. 

The 14 new Allergens that must be shown on labelling:

Celery, Crustaceans, Eggs, Fish, Gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut or their hybrid strains), Lupin, Milk, Molluscs, Mustard, Nuts, Peanuts, Sesame Seeds, Soya, Sulphur Dioxide, and Sulphites. 

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