It will come as no surprise how important allergy information is in today’s day and age. This is even more so, when it comes to food allergy information and awareness and naturally so.
In the UK, an estimated 2 million people are living with a diagnosed food allergy. No doubt there are many more who are unaware that they may have a food allergy.
According to the Food Standard Agency any food business must follow the allergen information rules set in EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC). This means that they must:
- provide allergen information to the consumer for both pre-packed and non-prepacked food or drink
- handle and manage food allergens adequately
They also need to make sure that their staff are trained and up to date about allergens.
Food businesses need to inform customers if any food products they sell or provide contain any of the main 14 allergens as an ingredient, which are as follows:
- Cereals containing gluten – including wheat (such as spelt and Khorasan), 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)
This applies also to the additives, processing aids and any other substances which are present in the final product. For example, sulphites, which are often used to preserve dried fruit, might still be present after the fruit is used to make chutney. If this is the case, you need to declare them.
One District Council has described The Food Business as follows:
A food business is any undertaking, whether carried out for profit or not, and whether public or private, involved in any of the following:
- Preparation of food
- Processing of food
- Manufacture of food
- Packaging of food
- Storage of food
- Transportation/distribution of food
- Handling of food
- Offering food for sale
A food business may be a retail shop selling sweets and confectionary, a bakery, a butchers, a cafe or restaurant, fast food premises, a pub, a micro-brewery or pub, a cake maker and a home caterer. The definition of food includes drink and beverages.
Having had the opportunity to speak with a Trading Standards representative, I was informed that there have recently been six deaths as a result of food businesses not conducting their due diligence around food allergies. The businesses concerned could be facing criminal action and no doubt, be subject to civil claims of negligence.
Trading Standards are understandably concentrating their resources to ensure businesses comply with the necessary requirements to avoid any further unnecessary suffering.
If you have been affected in any way by similar circumstances or feel that you simply need some advice in relation to the legislation, or any other trading standards matter, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0207 936 6329 or alternatively email us on email@example.com