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Understanding Food Allergens

We’ve seen an increase in news articles, blogs and reviews relating to food allergens and the need for businesses to comply and more importantly, understand why it’s crucial for them to follow the rules and regulations.

Many small businesses are seeking support and guidance through training schemes to better understand the impact of the new regulations on allergens, which if not dealt with correctly, pose real challenges to many businesses and their reputation.

Earlier this year, it was reported that a restaurant owner had been imprisoned for manslaughter following the death of a customer who suffered a severe anaphylactic shock after eating a takeaway that contained peanuts, even when he had made his allergy known to staff. It was revealed that cheaper ingredients had been substituted for spices.

We asked Kate, of our EHO’s, to offer some guidelines in relation to food allergies and food labelling;

1. Whole materials are a lot harder to substitute without you being aware
2. Ground mixes are one of the highest risks as it’s easy to substitute something of a similar colour and likely that the overall impact on taste and smell is minimal – therefore not easy to spot the differences.
3. Businesses should be able to trust their suppliers; use reputable companies, factories with BRC or other GFSI certification, ask for certificates of analysis for processed herbs and spices.
4. If you change a recipe, go back to your Allergen controls and re-assess them.
5. When you add an allergen where there wasn’t one previously I would suggest highlighting this on your menu – regular customers might not be aware if they are used to being able to order a particular dish.
6. Be mindful of what your highest risk ingredients are for allergens.
7. Be suspicious of a price that’s too good to be true – it probably is and may be indicative of substitution with another ingredient.
8. Be aware of commodity market price fluctuations that may encourage unscrupulous businesses to substitute ingredients.
9. Have full allergen listings for all recipes readily available, have a clear notice to customers and make sure your staff know where they are.
10. Consider your kitchen layout and use different areas, staff and utensils for allergen-containing recipes where possible. If you can’t physically separate allergens, have a process in place to ensure all equipment, utensils, surfaces can be fully cleaned down to prevent allergens getting into other dishes.

As a health & safety and food safety advice and support business, we can’t stress enough the importance of taking these matters seriously. We understand it can be a daunting task to fully understand the rules and regulations and therefore if there’s anyway we can be of further assistance then please do get in touch, hello@tradingsafelyltd.co.uk and we will be more than happy to help.

Please note the above advice is just a snippet of information and NOT a full list of policies and procedures for you to follow to ensure your business stays compliant.

13/09/2016

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