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Food allergen advice given to businesses

This news article was published more than a year ago. Some of the information may no longer be accurate.

Published: 25/03/2015

South Gloucestershire Council’s Environmental Health team has found businesses have so far responded well to their new duties to provide information to customers about food allergens.

Since December 2014 all food businesses must be able to verbally explain or signpost allergenic information for the food they sell or provide.

The new rules state that all food businesses need to inform customers if any of 14 allergenic ingredients are present in the food they make or serve. This can be communicated to customers in writing on menus, verbally through explanations by staff, or signposted to where or how more information can be found.

Allergy and intolerance to foods are significant health issues in the UK and internationally. Food allergies can cause life-threatening reactions and nationally the number of people with this condition is growing. The primary cause of food allergy deaths in the UK is due to allergic reactions when food is eaten outside the home where allergenic ingredients have not been declared.

The Environmental Health team routinely visit around 100 food businesses in South Gloucestershire each month, and as part of these visits officers check that they are complying with the new legislation. The team visit all businesses that sell food and respond to any allegations. These businesses include those that supply food directly to the public including cafes, pubs, restaurants, takeaways and home caterers.

South Gloucestershire Council’s food team leader Philippa Griffith said: “We have been helping local businesses to prepare for this new requirement and many have come to us with specific queries on how best to comply. We are pleased that businesses have had this positive attitude. We are shortly sending out further information to all relevant businesses in the area in case there are any outstanding queries.”

Dr Chun-Han Chan from the Food Standards Agency said: “Food allergies affect approximately five to eight per cent of children and one to two per cent of adults. This means that around two million people in the UK are living with a food allergy. People with food allergies can react to very small amounts of food, such as a teaspoon of yoghurt, a single peanut or even an egg glaze used to brush over pies.

“There is no cure for food allergies, so the only way for people to manage the condition is to avoid the food that makes them ill. This is where providing accurate food allergen labelling and information is important, and why food businesses, local authorities and the Food Standards Agency are all working together to ensure consumers have clear and accurate information.”

Although the new EU rules came into force in December 2014, they were published in October 2011, to give food businesses three years to get ready for the new provisions.

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