Allergen Notification Requirements For Businesses Providing Non-prepacked Foods
From 13th December 2014 new allergen labelling and notification rules will be in force for businesses that provide non-prepacked foods and prepacked foods for direct sale, such as restaurants, bakers, butchers, delicatessens, cafes, fast food outlets and institutional and other caterers. The Regulations are: EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (No. 1169/2011) (FIC) and Food Information Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1855) (FIR).
The Purpose of the Regulations
The purpose of the Regulations is to provide information to consumers about potential allergens contained in their food, so that the consumer can make a decision as to whether or not to consume the food. The Regulations include a detailed list of the 14 most common allergen groups.
What should food businesses do before 13th December 2014?
Food business, such as those listed above, will need to make sure that they have reviewed all the ingredients that they include in their food products to ensure that they are aware of any ingredients present that are in the List of Allergens. In addition, food businesses will need to make sure that their suppliers have also provided them with the necessary information on any allergens from the List of Allergens that have been used in the preparation or manufacture of the food product provided by the supplier. We will provide two template forms that can be used to simplify and record these procedures; “Supplier’s Allergen Notification Chart” and “Allergen Ingredients Information Sheet for Providing Oral Information”. The food business’s obligations under the Regulations will apply to all non-prepacked food provided by the food business on or after 13th December 2014.
Guidance on how allergen information should be declared in non-prepacked foods and foods packed for direct sale
• The term non-prepacked covers meals served in a restaurant or cafe but also includes foods prepacked for direct sale that are packed at the consumer’s request, examples of which would include: a delicatessen selling foods loose such as meat or cheese; bread sold at a bakery; meat and meat products from a butchers and meals prepared in a canteen for consumption on or off premises.
• Communicating the allergen content of food products for non-prepacked foods can be done in several ways to suit the style of the individual food business operator; the key requirement is that the use of any allergens in the food product is declared to the consumer. Unlike the rules applicable to pre-packed foods, the food business does not have to provide a full ingredients list although they can choose to do so.
• If the food business operator chooses not to provide the allergen information in a written format up front ,such as on a menu, then they must use clear signposting to direct the customer to where the information can be found, for example by asking a member of staff. The signposting must be in the form of a written statement that could be put, for example, on the food menu, on a blackboard, on a food order ticket or on a food label.
• Whether providing the allergen information directly in writing or using a signpost statement, the information must be easily accessible, in a conspicuous place, easily visible and clearly legible.
• Allergens from the List of Allergens that are present in the food product need to be declared to the consumer in the same form as they are detailed in the List of Allergens. For specific examples of how to detail the allergenic ingredients and further examples and information on this subject please refer to the Food Standards Agency Technical Guidance which can be found at www.food.gov.uk.
• The List of Allergens also includes details of exemptions.
• Even when food is provided free of charge such as: testers and samples; canapés at an event; sweets or biscuits at a hotel or airline meals, it is still necessary to provide either a signpost statement or written information on the allergenic ingredients.
Oral provision of allergen information
• The Regulations recognise that for certain businesses it may be much easier to provide allergen information orally. This only applies to non-prepacked foods. In such cases customers must be able to obtain the information from members of staff.
•If the allergen information is to be provided orally then at the point at which the consumer chooses their food the business must provide a written notice, for instance, a menu, ticket or clearly visible label that indicates that allergen information is available from a member of staff. It may be efficient to allocate specific responsibility for the provision of allergen information to certain members of staff, such as the duty manager in a restaurant. This can facilitate consistency and accuracy in the delivery of the allergen information.
• It is also suggested that the allergen information should be available for staff to refer to in a written and consistent form and the “Allergen Ingredients Information Sheet for Providing Oral Information” could be used for this purpose.
• When non-prepacked foods are sold via distance selling, such as food takeaways available via telephone or internet, the same level of information on allergens must still be provided to the consumer, this may be done by providing the ingredients list on a website or in a catalogue. The allergen information must be available to the customer before they make the purchase and again at the point of delivery.
The contents of this Information Page are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.