What does the legislation mean for food businesses?
Manufacturers of pre-packed food that contains any of these 14 allergens must label them clearly on the packaging. For most manufacturers that means emboldening them in the ingredients list, though some choose to highlight them in a different colour.
What about food businesses working with food that isn’t pre-packaged - such as cafés, restaurants or bakeries? If detailed allergen information is not provided in written format, the food business should make it clear to the customer where the information can be found. That might be through asking a member of staff, for example, and customers must be made aware of that fact in menus, on blackboards, food order tickets or whatever is applicable. There are also print and apply options for items like packaged cakes.
The rules apply to all registered food businesses, although there is one exception. Pre-packed products that were placed on the market or labelled before 13th December 2014 can be sold without highlighting allergen information until stocks have been exhausted. A detailed explanation of the legislation is available here.
Do consumers care?
Food intolerances are on the rise. The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) estimates 17 million allergy sufferers throughout Europe, each of them requiring labelling that makes it easy to identify foods they need to avoid. Clearer labelling of allergens is a good thing.
What technology can I use?
Most food businesses operate in a fast-paced environment. The margin between profit and loss can be thin. Compliance with the new legislation can seriously disrupt operations. But with the right technology - and it is out there - you can find ways to communicate allergen information quickly, clearly and flexibly.