In the advent of the new allergens regulations, the UK food industry must put due diligence at the top of its agenda to support strategic business opportunities. That is the message from Diana Spellman, managing director of the UK’s leading catering procurement agency Partners In Purchasing, as the organisation urges catering establishments and suppliers to fully comply with the new legislation and to nurture business with end customers by ensuring that full allergy information is available.
“Industry research and our experience reveal that currently around 20 to 30 per cent of food and beverage businesses are not ready for the change. Many organisations in the supply chain are side-stepping the issue of the new regulations, either because they do not have the infrastructure or they lack the finances to support the changes. Lack of compliance, however, does not only mean breaking the law, it means suppliers will let down their clients and miss key opportunities to turn changes in consumer awareness and behaviour into a business advantage.
“Attitudes within our industry do need to change, firstly because allergens can, and do, kill. Secondly, the number of people who have food preferences based on their ability to comfortably digest different food types, has risen dramatically over the last few years, with up to 20 per cent of the population believing they have a food intolerance. Last year £238 million was spent in the UK on ‘free-from’ food. This is now a consumer choice.”
Caterers rely on suppliers to provide them with accurate information which they need to collate for every ingredient and dish served to customers. Not knowing what is in the food is an offence. With the change in legislation, and in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, the spotlight is on the supply chain more than ever.
Consumers rely on their caterers to be confident about accuracy and consistency of specifications, provenance, safety and quality of food.
“The allergen regulations, coupled with the new food labelling laws, are an ultimate chance to clean up the supply chain from food fraud, to establish proper transparency to the supply chain with robust traceability of product, from production to plate, and to highlight the true value of premium food over adulterated food.”