Nearly half of foodservice operators unaware of allergen legislation
With less than a month to go until the introduction of new allergen legislation, research conducted for Unilever Food Solutions has revealed that nearly half of foodservice operators (44%) are unaware of the new law.
More than half of respondents were unable to identify the allergens (53.7%), despite over 80% of operators saying they were sometimes, or frequently, asked for information by customers.
Nearly 40% (38.6%) of operators have read about the new law in the media and a third have obtained information from the Food Standards Agency. Just 13% received information from their environmental health officer. Operators are now looking for help to prepare for the legislation change, with 53% saying they will ask more questions of their suppliers.
Wendy Duncan, technical manager for Unilever Food Solutions, said: “It’s apparent from our research and queries we’re getting from our customers that operators are concerned about the new legislation. Only a third of businesses said they felt ready for the change. 85% of caterers told us that they would like a handbook to help them prepare and 44% believe they need to invest more in training.
“Anticipating this demand, we’ve produced a simple-to-use allergen and diets guide for professional caterers. This gives clear and practical advice to help operators get ready for December. It includes detailed information about the 14 allergens, what foods and products may contain them, and hints and tips on how to make substitutions on their menus. The guide makes an ideal tool to help operators train their staff and there’s an online quiz to test employee knowledge about allergens.”
The Government announced the decision to extend the existing allergen regulations in October 2011, effectively giving operators a three-year period to integrate the information into their businesses. However, when questioned 87% of operators felt that the changes have not been well communicated by the Government.
From 13 December 2014, operators will be required to answer any questions from consumers about allergens that might be present in the food they sell.
Under the new rules they must be able to provide information on the following 14
allergens: eggs, milk, crustaceans (shellfish), molluscs, fish, peanuts, sesame, soya, sulphur dioxide, nuts, cereals containing gluten, celery, mustard and lupin.
The Unilever Food Solutions tools are free and downloadable here: www.ufs.com/allergens
 Source: Dewberry Redpoint/Survey Monkey for UFS June 2014, 500+ respondents