The new allergen labelling laws
The events industry is buzzing with the inevitable confusion over the recent changes in the food labelling laws. Who has to do what? Why? When? How? If you’re not sure what the Food Information for Consumers Regulations mean for you, let us take you through it, step by step.
Does this affect me?
Do you organise any events during which you serve food or drink prepared by your company or hired caterers? If the answer is yes, then you need to make changes to the way you communicate allergen information to your guests or delegates – even if you think you’ve already got it covered!
What are the new laws?
From December 14 2014, the EU introduced new rules about food allergen labelling. The legislation affects any business which provides foods. Event catering falls under the ‘loose foods’ category.
It is now a legal requirement that all guests are made aware if they are being served any of the following 14 foods: celery, cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs, mustard, nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, soya and sulphur dioxide. This is because they can cause an allergic reaction and sufferers should be made aware of the risks.
Although responsible organisers and caterers have been putting allergy information on their menus for years, among the 14 allergens are a few ingredients not commonly found on the usual list.
What does our company have to do?
The advice from the Food Standards Agency is to clearly label any printed menus and to fully inform all waiting staff of the dishes which contain any of these allergens so they can confidently advise guests. It is also suggested that any query presented to your waiting staff should be doubled checked with someone in the kitchen.
If you’re hosting an event without printed menus, such as a drinks reception with a buffet or canapés, the rules remain the same. Allergy information needs to be communicated to any guest being served a dish containing any of the 14 listed ingredients. You could consider using cards on the buffet table or the trays your waiting staff are carrying the canapés on – it’s up to you. Excuses of not knowing what’s in the food you serve or ignorance of the new laws is no excuse if someone has a reaction because they weren’t aware of the risks.
What Merchant Taylors’ Hall can do to help
Although the responsibility of adhering to the new laws lies with the event organiser, if you’re organising an event with us, we can help. We can print your menus and table and tray cards and our kitchen and waiting staff will be fully briefed on the food we’re serving for your guests so any questions will be answered correctly.
Where can I go for advice?
This content is reproduced or adapted by permission of the Food Standards Agency, which retains copyright on behalf of the Crown.
Please contact the Food Standards Agency if you have any questions.