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New food allergen regulations will cost business £200m a year

With new EU Food Information regulations set to come into effect later on in the year, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has estimated that the cost of implementation can be as high as £200 million each year.

The new regulations which come into force on 13 December 2014 aim to provide the public with better information about the foods they are eating. This means that every restaurant, hotel, pub, take away, motorway service station, café owner and festival caterer, as well as schools, hospitals and prison meals services, will have to accurately track, record and communicate to the public what menu items contain any of 14 of the most common foods to cause allergic reactions, such as nuts, shellfish and eggs.

With up to 2 per cent of people being food allergy sufferers and 20 per cent of people believing they have some kind of food allergy according to NHS figures, food businesses which serve some eight billion out-of-home meals every year, could be dealing with millions of requests for information. The BHA is therefore launching a guidance toolkit designed by its food advisory team, members and Bond Dickinson to help hotels, restaurants and caterers implement the new regulations and cope with these requests for information.

Jackie Grech, policy director for the BHA said:

“These new regulations coming into force this winter and will make it easier for people to get information about which allergens are present in the food they are eating out of home. Food businesses will be expected to learn how best to communicate these new regulations to their customers and the BHA is today launching a toolkit, forum and workshops to help food businesses of all sizes.

“The challenge will be greatest for restaurants who frequently change recipe or menu items; pop-up or event caterers; establishments with high staff turnover; and smaller establishments who may struggle with the resources to track, identify and record all allergens used from main dishes through to garnishes and drinks. As a result, the British Hospitality Association has calculated that it could cost the industry up to £200 million per year to implement new sourcing and management processes, adapt menus and websites and regularly brief and train staff.”

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