In December 2014, the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation came into force, designed to ensure allergen information is provided in a clear and consistent way and covering both prepacked and non-packaged foods. Given the fact that 8 % of children and 2% of adults in the UK have a food allergy or intolerance (source: Food Standards Agency), the new requirements were welcomed by many as they would now be able to make more informed choices regarding the food they eat.
The Food Standards Agency recently commissioned the University of Bath to research the impact of the regulation on consumers with food allergies and intolerances. The study looked at consumer confidence when eating out both prior to and after the introduction of the requirements. Overall, consumer confidence in eating out has greatly improved since December 2014.
The report showed that 70% of consumers felt more confident when asking staff for allergen information and 35% felt that allergen information on menus had improved since the introduction of the new requirements. Many food allergy and intolerant consumers now eat out more often due to greater confidence regarding allergen information, as well as being more likely to return to establishments which demonstrated a helpful approach to their allergen needs. The full report can be found here: https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/fs305013-final-report.pdf
Whilst, overall, the research evidences the benefits of the current requirements, the Food Standards Agency has stated that some businesses still have some progress to make regarding the provision of allergen information. They also emphasised that this recently published report clearly demonstrates the benefits to a business of complying with the requirements. A wealth of resources to assist businesses to meet their legal obligations can be found on the Food Standard’s Agency website https://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/allergy-guide
To increase awareness within catering businesses, earlier this year Highfield, one of the UK’s leading awarding bodies in food safety, launched their Level 2 Award in Food Allergen Awareness and Control in Catering. Our Director of Food Safety, Jude Hutchinson, was one of the course developers. The course is designed to provide food handlers and other staff involved in food preparation in the catering industry with an understanding of food allergens and foods commonly causing intolerances. To find out more regarding how HSF Training Ltd can assist your business, from basic allergen awareness training to bespoke consultancy, please visit our website www.hsftraining.co.uk