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‘Tis the Season… to Label Food

With the festive season on the horizon, restaurants, cafés, hotels and other foodservice establishments will soon enjoy one of their busiest times of the year. With peak numbers of diners, it’s more crucial than ever to follow the latest government regulations on labelling food, especially when it comes to allergens.

The current regulation
On 13 December 2014, the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation 1169/2011 came into effect. This requires establishments serving pre-packed food to declare to consumers if their dishes contain any of the 14 allergenic ingredients: fish, crustaceans, molluscs, nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, soybeans, celery (including celeriac), mustard, sesame seeds, lupin, sulphur dioxide and sulphites. Therefore, establishments must inform their customers of allergens through printing a warning on the packaging, putting a warning on a display such as a blackboard, or through conversation between diners and staff.

What’s new?
From 13 December this year, an update to this regulation will oblige businesses to declare or label all pre-packed food they serve with nutritional information in the prescribed format currently in use.

What does it mean?
You have to declare the exact energy values in kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal), as well as the amounts in grams (g) of fat, saturates, sugars, protein and salt.

Who does it apply to?
Whoever serves packaged food such as sandwiches and salads. The easiest and most transparent way of following these regulations is to simply print all the nutritional information as well as any allergenic ingredients present on the packaging of all pre-packed food.

Does Brexit affect this?
Following Britain’s recent decision to leave the EU, some business owners have been claiming that they soon won’t by law have to supply allergy information when asked. According to David Pickering, the joint lead officer for Food and Nutrition for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, any changes in food regulation wouldn’t come into effect until at least two years from now. In the meantime, the current EU food regulations still stand. These include the recent change to the labelling of gluten: from 20 July, establishments have been required to use terms such as ‘gluten-free’ and ‘very low gluten’ instead of ‘No Gluten Containing Ingredients’.

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