Regulations regarding allergens always have an impact on the hospitality industry. New EU Allergens Law rules, 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 rules on 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. Under the new rules, 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 the laws oneself, the pertinent information is presented in an easy to digest format.