Allergen laws: Food businesses concern over staff misinformation

By James Wallin, M&C Report

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Management

A quarter of operators are fearful of fines resulting from making mistakes around allergies
A quarter of operators are fearful of fines resulting from making mistakes around allergies
Operators are fearful of members of staff passing on the wrong allergen information to customers and keeping on top of daily allergen information to communicate to diners in food and beverage outlets.

That is according to figures from F&B technology provider Caternet which showed that one third of operators cite each of these as concerns following the introduction of allergen laws in December.

The survey asked catering and hospitality managers about their concerns since the allergens legislation came into force two months and found that almost one third admit that one of their biggest concerns is staff giving out incorrect allergens information to customers which could lead to serious consequences. A further one-third of managers said their main concern is keeping on top of allergens advice on a daily basis.

A quarter of operators are fearful of fines resulting from making mistakes and being fined while only 11% said they are concerned that suppliers would provide the correct information.

Only 2% were able to say confidently that they don’t have any concerns at all regarding how these regulations are managed moving forward which shows how much uncertainty there is in the sector.


Jerry Brand, managing director at Caternet said: “Last year it was all about getting ready for the impending deadline, now it’s about keeping your head above the water for what can be a very serious issue if it goes wrong, certainly if recent headlines are anything to go by.

"Ensuring customers get the correct allergens information is vital and can be a matter of life and death in some cases, so it’s understandable that this is a concern for many. Equally, keeping on top of that advice daily can be a huge drain on resource and this is where day to day management can be a struggle.”

Caternet said businesses need to take advantage of technologies that will help keep them on top on managing the legislation on a daily basis.

Related topics: Healthy options, Training, Licensing law

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Allergen Awareness and Laws

Posted by Joan Goodger - Food Safety Trainer,

Businesses that I have trained in Allergen and Food Intolerances have told me that their takings have since increased by 20%. This is because customers are more likely to eat out if they have the re-assurance of the business and it's staff.

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New Allergen Regulations

Posted by Paul Warren,

We have been trying to get the message out to the hospitality and catering fraternity since the FSA released the guidance last year. Unfortunately there seems to be a fear with many business owners or landlords that the task of being compliant will be an onerous one. It doesn't have to complicated or time consuming.
Having a simple system in place would help even second language staff members understand what information to pass onto their customers.
The secret is to keep it simple.

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Posted by John P. Graham,

I'm not surprised that only 2% of pub managers have declares in this survey that they have no concerns as to managing the food allergen laws.

This clearly demonstrates how vulnerable many licensees are when endeavouring to negotiate this rrelatively new minefield of legislation.

Most at risk is obviously the sole trading publican who struggles to keep his/her business afloat and does not have the financial or human resources to fully invest in the initial and refresh/ongoing training to keep up to speed on this. Clearly these people do not have the clout of the major players of this world such as JDW, M&B, Stonegate etc. to invest and protect their interests in these matters.

Further problems can arise when some members of staff have a very poor command of the English language. I even know of a barmaid who cannot string along a simple sentence yet, in the pub where she's employed, takes food orders from customers without query or comment and merely enters them onto the EPOS system, clearly unaware of the need to even ask if customers have any food allergies or intollerences. Surely a potential reciepe for trouble, (No pun intended!).

This is obviously something that will not go away and I feel sorry for those publicans who don't have the resources to hand to put into place a proper and appropriate ongoing programme to ensure that all staff are fully equipped with sufficient knowledge to confidently manage this situation.

John P. Graham
Hampstead Village NW3

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