Publicans reminded they will need to give allergens advice for drinks

By James Wallin contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage

Publicans will need to give information about allergens in beer
Publicans will need to give information about allergens in beer
Many publicans are still unaware that beer and wine will be covered by the new allergen laws, which come into force in less than two months.

The new EU rules on displaying allergen information for all food and drink come into force on 13 December. However, fewer than half of venues are prepared and many licensees are completely unaware they must provide the same information for beer and wine.

The main allergen risk for beer is gluten. Pubs will be expected to inform customers — who request the information — which cereals, such as barley or wheat, are present. Other risks include sulphite.

Lindsay Roper, training manager at Spirit Leased has been warning publicans to make sure their houses are in order. He said: “There are people who have it all under control, there are people who know about it but haven’t got round to doing anything yet and then there are people who say ‘what allergen laws?’. Even with those that know about the impact on food, most of them don’t know how it affects drinks.”

Steve Livens, policy manager at the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “The impact on the drinks side is not going to be as huge as it will be for food, but the general principle is the same — if a customer asks for allergen information, there has to be some way of communicating that. In terms of draught beer that means either having information on the pump clip or in the menu or it being available verbally. I am a little uncomfortable with the idea of it being done purely verbally because it is such a complex issue.


“Pump clips are probably the way forward — there is space on the back of the clip where the tasting notes go that could include allergen information.”

He added: “We are still waiting for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) guidance to come out. Time is running very short now. The latest Unilever research showed that 40% of venues were completely unaware of the laws, never mind implementing them. So we would hope for, and expect to get, light-touch enforcement.”

A spokeswoman for the Food Standards Agency said pubs would need to “signpost written or verbal information” for beer and wine served in a glass.

She said: “There is a great deal of information available to ensure businesses will be up to speed by December.”

Related topics: Licensing law, Legislation

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Allergen advice

Posted by david,

Last week I wrote the following email to my local EHO:

Dear Sirs

In respect of the new regulations coming into effect in December, could you please provide advice in respect of publicans' responsibility to supply allergen information in respect of 'unpackaged' drinks and in particular draught drinks such as beer and cider, and also wine served by the glass.

In particular, could you provide advice as to how the retailer should determine:

a) what potential food allergens exist in drinks likely to be served in a pub

b) which products are likely to contain such allergens

c) what level of concentration poses a risk to the consumer

I am aware, for example, that beer is likely to contain gluten (grain/cereal) and sulphites (hops). Cider is likely to contain sulphites - but at what level. If a publican sells a packaged product e.g. 'Appletise', will the label provide all the allergen information required? If not, how does the publican respond to the customer's request for allergen information on that product?

The context of my enquiry is that I am involved in an on-line licensed trade forum where publicans are seeking advice.

Please accept my sincere thanks in anticipation of your response.

Today, I received the following reply:

Hello David,

Thank you for your enquiry.

Manufacturers will be required to label products containing allergens - therefore publicans should get all the information they need from the breweries. Packaged products (e.g. Appletise, bottles/boxes of wine) will have the information on the labels but I am unsure about kegs/barrels so I would therefore suggest that the publicans contact their suppliers to ask how the information will be provided to them.

Allergen information of non prepackaged foods and drinks can be communicated to customers in a variety of ways - either written on a menu/drinks list or clear signposting to direct the customer to where the information can be found, such as asking members of staff. However, staff must obviously then be able to answer such queries!

I hope that answers your query but please let me know if not. There is lots of information available here -


Senior Environmental Health Officer

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Posted by RFM,

I am sure there will be customers who will exploit this. Threatening action if you don't reduce the bill because, they weren't told but conversely didn't advise they has specific allergens.

As has been said many times we should all take responsibility for our own health and well being.

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Let's label the customers LOL

Posted by Graham Bell,

Otherwise we might next be expected to ask a customer having just ordered food or drink of choice "are you free from an allergic reaction to this" (just to be on the safe side).

I have every sympathy with sufferers but at what point do they take responsibility for their choice of food or drink?

The threat of unlimited penalties on retailers is totally unreasonable.

It is all a recipe to encourage unfair claims.

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