Now is an ideal time to re-visit production methods, re-assess the food offering, review menus and re-train staff, not forgetting to revise the necessary paperwork! Customer safety is paramount, not only the essential precautionary measures regarding Covid-19, but also the control measures that are necessary to ensure that the free-from customer can eat out safely. This will inspire customer confidence that the food outlet of choice is taking allergen management seriously.

The UK has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergenic conditions in the world, with over 20% of the population* affected by one or more allergic disorder and young adults under 35 are the most likely group to suffer from an allergy. Research has revealed that young people are eating take-away meals more often now than before lock-down began and that this trend is likely to continue. The allergen labelling regulations apply to all take-away outlets and allergen information must be available to the customer before the purchase of the food is completed and when the food is delivered. This information must be accurate and verifiable.

During lockdown, more businesses have started to take advantage of online ordering and delivery, and in some cases these businesses are not registered with the local authority. They may be unaware of the fact that registration is necessary in order for the local authority to carry out an inspection of the premises prior to being able to sell food to the public. They may also be unaware of the legislation surrounding the provision of allergen information and the control of allergenic cross- contamination, but ignorance of the Law is no defence! Tragically, there are 10-12 deaths per annum which are attributed to an allergic reaction to food and hospital admissions due to an allergic reaction have massively increased.

Regardless of the size of the business, it is essential to take allergen control seriously. Before re-opening, a business should put a process in place to track and identify the allergens that are present in all the food it produces. Fortunately, the technology is now available to identify all the allergenic ingredients from supplier to menu automatically thus making it so much easier to keep the information up to date and accurate.

The free-from customer also has a responsibility to let the business know that they are allergic to certain foods and this should be encouraged by signposting, menu information and staff training. Caterers are not mind readers and communication is essential at all stages from the customer to the front of house staff, and from front of house to the kitchen. One mistake could be catastrophic for the customer and for the business concerned so staff training and accurate allergen information are vital.

In order to understand the consequences of what can happen when things go wrong, Food Allergy Aware is holding an innovative online “Mock Trial- Food Allergy Prosecution” on Wednesday May 26th. All attendees will hear the prosecution and defence cases and will be part of the jury involved in passing sentence. It will all be supervised by the sitting Judge.

Do not miss this unique opportunity to get involved and meet suppliers and a host of keynote speakers from the Allergen Management Sector. Not only will we be exploring the legal ramifications of ‘getting it wrong’ we will also be hearing from Nando’s and Center Parcs who will explain their ‘Best Practice’ processes in place to cater for customers with allergy requirements, as well as some first-hand experiences of those that live with food allergies. Food Standards Agency will also be presenting about what new PPDS legislation coming into effect in the UK on the 1st October 2021 means for businesses and how they can get ready for this next step. This is the perfect opportunity to ensure that your allergen management systems have been fully considered and that all necessary processes and procedures are in place.

We are really pleased to have recently partnered with Serve Legal, who will be sponsoring this event and be attending as an exhibitor.

*M.L Levy (2004)

To find out more about the Food Allergy Prosecution Mock Trial - Sentencing Hearing on Wednesday 26 May please click here.

For further information on Food Allergy Aware please contact:

Caroline Benjamin: Food Allergy Aware
T: 07732637292

If you want to find out more about Natasha’s Law and the work the NARF (Natasha Allergy Research Foundation) are doing you can find out by clicking here: What is Natasha's Law? — Natasha Allergy Research Foundation

The Food Standards Agency has compiled a comprehensive introduction to the labelling changes regarding PPDS here: Introduction to allergen labelling changes (PPDS) | Food Standards Agency