Allergen Management at Christmas (and the rest of the year!) From restaurants, online delivery platforms and even street food stalls, food is very much the centre of most of our lives. Great news for food businesses as increased demand equals increased profits. However, increased demand often brings with it poor allergen management.
To recap, t
he 14 allergens that need to be managed correctly are: Cereals containing gluten Crustaceans Eggs Fish Peanuts Soya Milk Nuts (Tree nuts) Celery Mustard Sesame Sulphur Dioxide Lupin Molluscs Natasha’s Law
Your team must adhere to strict allergen management procedures. We have recently seen high-profile allergen cases that have resulted in the tragic death of allergen sufferers. One example being the death of Natasha Edan-Laperouse. Natasha’s parents have campaigned to change allergen laws with much success. The newly introduced “
Natasha’s Law” will come into effect in summer 2021.
Natasha’s Law means food businesses will need to provide full ingredient and allergen labelling. Currently, not all foods that are Pre Packed for Direct Sale (PPDS) are required to show full ingredient or allergy information on the product label. The new law will ensure that allergen sufferers will be able to make informed, safe choices when it comes to eating out.
How will this affect small business?
Although a positive step for consumers, Natasha’s Law will impact small food businesses. Businesses may not have the processes or equipment in place to produce accurate allergen and ingredient information. Additionally, some clarity on the definition of PPDS is required as there is some confusion currently on this. The FSA are expected to issue guidance and support to business nationwide in preparation for the 2021 deadline.
But in the meantime, how can you ensure your team – whether full time or temporary – are correctly and efficiently managing allergens in your business?
Allergen management do’s and don’ts DO: Ensure your team are Along with the mandatory level 2 food safety requirement, your team should be knowledgeable on allergens, whether through classroom or e-learning training. suitably trained. Ensure your allergen information is accurate. Allergen information relating to the menus must be accurate and readily available for any customers with allergies. The team needs to be able to provide accurate information should a customer have an allergen question. There is no place for uncertainty. Avoid cross contamination. All staff need to operate in ways which avoid cross contamination of foods by the major food allergens. Include allergen management in yourYou need to document and mitigate allergens as much as possible as they’re a critical control point. HACCP plans. Make customers feel comfortable. Allergen sufferers can often feel awkward when they declare they have an allergen. Make sure from the outset your customers know that any questions in relation to allergies will be taken seriously and that the team are supportive and understanding. DON’T: Guess – Always Ask. Never guess when a customer asks about the allergen content of dishes. Even a small amount of allergen is enough to cause a severe reaction. Always check. Use ingredients you’re unsure of. Don’t use a food produce if it is damaged, contains ingredients you aren’t sure of or can’t confirm. Never use a substitute product unless it has been approved by the relevant Manager or Senior Chef. Be afraid to check with the chef to check the allergen content or to offer an alternative. If the menu isn’t suitable for the customer you must advise them honestly, If the chef can provide an alternative that will show your customer that you understand their dietary requirements. Allergen management must be a high priority for all the team. If you aren’t sure or need help and guidance when it comes to allergen management within your business, don’t be afraid to seek it. The consequences for both the allergy sufferer, your food business and yourself are simply not worth the risk! For more information on how we can help your business excel when it comes to allergen management, contact our team today on 08450 50 40 60.