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Do You Understand The EU Allergens Law?

Do You Understand The EU Allergens Law?

Regulations regarding allergens always have an impact on the hospitality industry. New EU Allergens Law, in particular, have the potential to completely alter the way restaurant, catering, cruise and hospitality kitchens of all types prepare, represent, and serve their dishes.

Understanding the basics

Essentially, the EU rules apply to the fourteen most common allergens. The allergens involved are eggs, molluscs, crustaceans, treenuts, sulphites, soya, sesame, peanuts, mustard, celery, milk, fish, gluten, and lupin. Hospitality businesses that serve food, packaged or otherwise, must identify whether or not these allergens are present in each and every dish.

Changes from past laws

In the past, the onus for determining whether or not a food contained an allergen was essentially on the person who had the allergy. That is, they were responsible for inquiring if a dish had a particular ingredient so that they could then avoid it.  That’s changed since the introduction of the new EU Allergens Law related to allergens.

Now, restaurants will need to label each dish with a very precise list of what allergens each dish contains.

Why understanding these changes is important

In the past, it was sufficient for a restaurant to state that it was unaware of the allergens in their foods, or to state that a certain dish may contain allergens.  This type of disclaimer is no longer considered sufficient.

That means that restaurateurs, small, independent caterers, and chefs will need to research each and every ingredient in their dishes to accurately list the allergens present.

They’ll also need to take into consideration the threats posed by cross contamination in their own kitchen, and change their kitchen policies in response. According to the new Allergens Law, the listings of what allergens a food contains must be exact, and a reaction to an allergen unlisted due to its presence from cross contamination could result in a fine.

If a business does not comply with these rules, they can face fines of up to £5,000 for each infraction—fines which could be devastating for small businesses.

Training and education

Obviously, all businesses in the hospitality industry that serve food and drink will need to prioritise training their employees in regards to these new rules.  One problem with this is that even owners and chefs need to train. That’s why a certified third party training program can be extremely valuable. Instead of having to study Allergens Law oneself, the pertinent information is presented in an easy to digest format.



  1. This is a minefield! Have completed all the training and implemented this within our workplace, no follow up done. Had an EHO visit the other day and Allergens not even mentioned and was not even questioned on the training that had taken place. It is key to ensure the training is done and it is managed effectively in the business, however, feel there should be a better understanding of how to move this forward within the business.

  2. Becki Pollock

    I’d be interested to learn what the situation with this allergen law will be after Brexit. What do people think? Is it going to stay as it is at the moment, with the responsibility for allergens on the business, or is it going to go back to the responsibility being on the customer? Personally I think it could go either way.

  3. Roberto Garde

    Understand allergens and the law about this a lot better now that we’ve been given proper on-going training about it at work

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