This Food Allergy Awareness Week (10-16 May), leading testing, inspection, and certification authority Bureau Veritas is asking businesses to put the spotlight on allergen labelling and employee training to ensure safety of customers with food allergies.
According to Allergy UK, 44% of British adults now suffer from at least one allergy, with the number of sufferers on the rise; and almost half of sufferers have more than one allergy1. The consequences of an allergic reaction can be severe too, including anaphylactic shock or even death – such as the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who passed away after suffering an allergic reaction to an undeclared ingredient in a baguette which was pre-packed for direct sale.
Thus, with new regulations coming into effect this year making allergen labelling compulsory on food that is pre-packed for direct sale, Bureau Veritas is encouraging food and hospitality businesses to use this awareness week to bring allergen labelling to the fore and set out a clear plan for the transition towards more transparent labelling aligned to ‘Natasha’s Law’.
George Macfie, Food Technical Manager at Bureau Veritas, said: “With just a few months until changes to regulations come into effect, it’s vital that food and hospitality businesses have already, or at least have a plan to adjust to the new rules around food labelling. ‘Natasha’s Law’ will affect a number of businesses in the food service and retail industries, including cafes, fast food and takeaway outlets.
“From 1 October this year, all food that is pre-packed for direct sale will need to have an individual label showing the name of the food item and a full ingredients list with the 14 legal allergens. At present, the allergen information for these products can be provided by any means. This includes being informed verbally by staff.
“Food Allergy Awareness Week is a strong reminder to all businesses of the importance of food allergies, and there is no better time to review your current working practices to ensure you are maintaining compliance when it comes to allergen management and preparing for ‘Natasha’s Law’”.
Food Allergy Awareness Week is an initiative created by FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education). The aim of the week is to raise awareness of different food allergies and improve public understanding of what can be a life-threatening condition. It calls on people to act and make an impact, on behalf of people around the world that suffer with food allergies.
George continues: “As well as ensuring food labelling is compliant with the new regulations, employee training will form a large part of ensuring customer safety, particularly ahead of 1 October, where allergen information can still be delivered verbally. Following possibly a year out of work for many workers in the hospitality industry, it is vital that training is refreshed to ensure all staff members are provided with the resources they need to keep their customers safe.
“When the October changes come into effect, it will also be important for businesses to not only implement a robust plan but to communicate this throughout the business. Lack of communication could result in information being misunderstood or misinterpreted.”
“Central to all of this will be management oversight at every stage in the process, ensuring effective transition to the new labelling format of communicating allergens. If in doubt, businesses can turn to a trusted third-party compliance partner, such as Bureau Veritas, which has extensive expertise and experience in supporting the food and hospitality industries.”
As a leading health and safety firm, Bureau Veritas has supported a number of business to develop a greater understanding of rules around allergen labelling and assisting businesses to maintain compliance. It has recently developed a new training offering called ‘An Introduction to Allergens: Know your Allergens including ‘Natasha’s Law’’ – this course will allow duty holders to refresh their knowledge and increase their awareness of upcoming changes to allergen management.
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