How Do The Allergen Regulations Affect Your Food Business?
Allergen labelling rules affect businesses that supply food or drinks to consumers. The relevant rules are set out in the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (No. 1169/2011) (FIC) and Food Information Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/1855) (FIR). They are effective in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So whether you are a food manufacturer, a restaurant, a mobile burger bar, a supplier of sandwiches to offices and shops or a catering kitchen, you are a Food Business Operator and these Regulations apply to you.
What is the purpose of the Regulations?
It is estimated that in the UK 2 million people have a food allergy. An allergic reaction can be produced by a very small amount of the allergen and this can result in serious symptoms; every year in the UK around 10 people die from an allergic reaction to food. Allergic individuals need to avoid the food that causes the allergic reaction and consequently they need to know whether or not the allergen is in their food. For this reason, the Regulations require food businesses to provide clear and accurate information on the allergens present in the food they have produced and to ensure that all prepacked food is clearly labelled for allergens and that clear allergen information is provided for non-prepacked foods.
What food products do the Regulations apply to?
The Regulations apply to foods sold prepacked, non-prepacked and prepacked for direct sale by a food business. The Regulations do not apply to food provided by individuals who are not food businesses and may, for example, occasionally provide food at charitable events or school cake sales.
What does the food business operator need to do?
The Regulations include a list of the 14 most common ingredients and processing aids that cause food allergies and intolerances. In accordance with the legislation, if your food product contains or uses an ingredient or processing aid derived from one of the listed substances or products then it will need to be declared to the customer.
For prepacked food the Regulations require that the food business displays a list of each of the potential allergens they have used in either the preparation or manufacture of the food they are providing. The Regulations even give details about the size of the labels and the font that should be used so that the information is clearly displayed.
For non-prepacked food and food prepacked for direct sale, in certain circumstances the Regulations allow this information to be provided orally.
What happens if my business does not comply with the Regulations?
Failure to comply with the Regulations is a criminal offence and can result in a fine and criminal prosecution.
Specific queries can be made to your local enforcement agency; such as the Local Authority Trading Standards or Environmental Health Department.
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.