There are big changes to the information that food businesses must give to their customers.
During the preparation of loose food, you may be using prepacked foods as ingredients in your recipe. Allergenic ingredients will be emphasised within the ingredients list of prepacked foods.
Also, bear in mind that some products (such as tinned or dried food) have a long shelf life. It’s possible that you could see both types of labelling being used on these types of products.
Prepacked foods refer to any food put into packaging before being placed on sale, when all of the following apply:
Please note: For the purposes of this leaflet, we will be using the term ‘loose food’ to mean all foods that are sold not prepacked. This includes unpackaged food or food that is packaged on site (prepacked for direct sale).
Allergic reactions can make people very ill and can sometimes lead to death. However, there is no cure for food allergy. The only way someone can avoid getting ill is to make sure they don’t eat the foods they are allergic to.
If you work with food, it is important to take food allergy seriously. You have a legal responsibility to provide the correct allergen information about the ingredients that is in the food you make or serve, to your customer.
Details of these allergens will have to be listed clearly in an obvious place such as:
If it is not provided upfront, you will need to signpost to where it could be obtained, either in written or oral formats.
All food businesses need to provide information about the allergenic ingredients used in foods sold or provided by them.
As a food business serving loose foods, you will have to supply information for every item on your menu that contains any of the 14 allergens as ingredients.
There are 14 major allergens which need to be declared when used as ingredients.
There are a number of ways in which allergen information can be provided to your customers. You will need to choose the method which is best for your business and the type of food you serve.
Keep staff trained and informed
Businesses should ensure, as a minimum, that all their staff are aware of the procedures and policies of the business when it comes to handling all requests for allergen information. All staff should receive some form of training on handling allergy information requests from their first day in the job.
As a food business, it is your responsibility to know which allergenic ingredients are present in the foods you sell. Where you have a group of foods such as cereals containing gluten and nuts, you will need to say what they are; for example, wheat and almonds.
Make sure the allergen information is accessible to all staff and that it is kept up-to-date. If you use part-prepared ingredients, make sure you know what’s in them and make sure they are clearly labelled. When handling and preparing foods, consider the risk of allergen cross-contamination.
Written allergen information
This can be provided on menus, menu boards or on websites, when selling online. For example:
Allergen menu folders that contain:
Telling a customer about allergens
Allergy information can also be provided as part of a conversation with the customer as well as using any of the ways described above. You can also use methods you have devised yourself to ensure that the information provided is correct and consistent.
Effective communication among your staff, with the customer and with your suppliers will help to ensure that customers with food allergy are given accurate information.
Remember that customers use the information you provide about the allergenic ingredients in the dishes you offer, to make the final decision on whether or not to buy and eat the food you provide.
You will need to think carefully about how:
Gluten-free and no gluten containing ingredients
If you say that any of the foods you serve are gluten-free, please note that there are strict rules surrounding this. The foods that you serve to your customer that are declared as gluten-free must not contain more than 20mg/kg of gluten.
If you are making a gluten-free claim on a loose food that you sell, consider whether you have the required processes in place to prevent cross-contamination.
When someone has an allergic reaction to a food it is important that all staff should know what to do.
If the above happens, this is what you should do:
For more information, please Chat with us Ask The Expert.
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