Food businesses in the retail and catering sector are required to provide allergen information and follow labelling rules by law.
This means that food business operators must:
- provide allergen information to the consumer for both prepacked and non-prepacked food and drink (loose food without packaging)
- handle and manage food allergens effectively in food preparation
You must do this, even if you don't charge for the food you supply.
The Food Standards Agency has a guide for providing allergen information and best practice for handling allergens.
Food labelling changes from October 2021
From 1 October 2021, the requirements for prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) food labelling will change in Wales, England, and Northern Ireland. Also known as ‘Natasha’s Law’, the changes come following the tragic death in 2016 of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse from an allergic reaction caused by her eating a baguette which she was unaware contained sesame. The new labelling will help protect consumers by providing potentially life-saving allergen information on the packaging.
For more information and sector specific guidance.
Use this labelling tool to find out whether the changes apply to your business and what you need to do.
The Food Standards Agency have prepared a free Webinar to help small and micro food businesses to better understand what PPDS is, how it affects your business and how you can ensure you are compliant with the new regulations from 1 October 2021.
Derbyshire Trading Standards Service will provide bespoke advice which can be requested by completing a business advice request form. There is a charge for this service.
The Greater Gwent Food Group, has released a new multilingual allergen resource for food businesses to help protect people living with a diagnosed food allergy in the UK.
If this information has not answered your queries please email our food safety team at email@example.com.
Allergens you must provide information for
The 14 allergens are: celery, cereals containing gluten (such as barley and oats), crustaceans (such as prawns, crabs and lobsters), eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs (such as mussels and oysters), mustard, peanuts, sesame, soybeans, sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million) and tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts).
What you must do
Identify allergens in the food you make or sell
You can do this by carrying out an assessment of the allergens that are present in all the food items that you serve. A simple way to do this is by completing an allergy matrix for the food that is for sale or on your menu. When complete this can also be used as a reference for your customers if requested. Ensure the matrix is regularly reviewed such as when you change specials or when a supplier delivers substitution food items.
Provide allergen information to customers
Customers must be provided with information on which allergens the food contains. This can be done by:
- adding the information to your menu
- providing an information sheet for customers
- verbally - at the point the customer chooses the food they must be advised that they can ask a member of staff about allergens, this could be through:
- a chalk board at the point of sale
- a note on your menu
- a member of staff telling the customer when they order
You can display this allergy and intolerance sign to tell customers how they can find out allergy information, or you can create your own. It is important that when customers contact you either by phone or internet ordering system that you ask the customer if they need information regarding allergens. You must be able to provide advice to customers on any allergens that are contained in the food you produce.
Train your staff
Your staff must be appropriately trained to be able to give consumers up to date and accurate information on allergens, or to refer consumers to the information in written form. To ensure that consistent allergen information is provided, you could consider using a system where staff direct queries to a nominated person who is suitably trained. Find out about allergy training for food businesses.
Statistically there is a greater risk of a person dying from an allergy reaction than there is of them dying of food poisoning. Allergen requests must be taken seriously by your employees. Allergen checklists for manager, kitchen staff, front of house staff and delivery staff, with tips on food allergy best practice, are available on the Food Standards Agency website.
Other food allergies and intolerances
Consumers may be allergic or have intolerance to other ingredients, but only the 14 allergens are required to be declared by food law. Find out more about food allergy and intolerance.
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Providing allergen information is regulated through the Food Information Regulations 2014 Regulation 5.