Foodservice faces £200M bill for new allergen rules

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Menus will have to clarify which items contain the 14 foods most commonly sparking an allergic reaction
Menus will have to clarify which items contain the 14 foods most commonly sparking an allergic reaction

Related tags: Asthma, Allergy, Food allergy

Changes to food allergen rules could cost £200M for foodservice operators, with smaller businesses among those set to struggle the most, according to the British Hospitality Association (BHA).

The changes to the Food Information Regulation (FIR) will affect every restaurant, hotel, pub, takeaway, motorway service station, café owner and festival caterer, as well as schools, hospitals and prison meals services.

They will have to accurately track, record and communicate to the public what menu items contain any of the 14 foods most commonly causing allergic reactions, such as nuts, shellfish and eggs.

Challenge greatest

The challenge would be greatest for restaurants that frequently changed recipe or menu items, pop-up or event caterers, and establishments with high staff turnover, said the BHA. Smaller establishments might also struggle with the resources to track, identify and record all allergens used from main dishes through to garnishes and drinks, it added.

As a result, the BHA calculated it could cost the industry up to £200M a year to implement new sourcing and management processes, adapt menus and websites and regularly brief and train staff.

A total of 8bn out-of-home meals are served every year, the BHA has claimed. Up to two percent of people are food allergy sufferers and 20% of people believe they have some kind of food allergy according to NHS figures. As a result, there could be millions of requests for information for food businesses to deal with, said the BHA.

Better information

The new EU regulations, which come into force on December 13, seek to provide the public with better information about the foods they are eating. The BHA 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.

“These new regulations … will make it easier for people to get information about which allergens are present in the food they are eating out of home,”​ said Jackie Grech, policy director for the BHA.

“Food businesses will be expected to learn how best to communicate these new regulations to their customers and the BHA this week is launching a toolkit, forum and workshops to help food businesses of all sizes.”

Related topics: Regulation, Food Labelling

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2 comments

Food Informations Regulatins - allergen information in catering

Posted by Michael Walker,

Its good to get a debate started about this, the new rules will make life a lot easier and safer for people with allergies and coeliac condition. There is some good advice on how to cope at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTBI3hCPT94&list=PLh7gvGGhPbb0T0fpY8KVM52XocGgGo3S-

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About time!

Posted by T. Hayde,

As a coeliac, eating out is like playing Russian Roulette. Most 'front of house' staff having no idea about allergens nor do they take it seriously. Even chefs don't know the difference between cornflour and wheat flour! Rather than being viewed as a 'problem diner' this is an opportunity for the food service sector to differentiate. There is a whole sector out there you are missing. Why is gluten free so difficult when you can provide Halal? McDonalds, KFC are you listening?

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