The new measures, announced by the Government today (25 June), will mean all businesses selling pre-packaged food will have to include full ingredients labelling on products.
It is proposed that the new laws will come into force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by summer 2021, in a bid to give food businesses time to adapt to the change.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We understand the sensitivity around the introduction of the legislation but we also think this is a retrograde step.
“Food safety is an incredibly important issue to our members and the entire sector. Many businesses have already taken voluntary steps to proactively deal with the issue and continue to do so.
“We take the matter very seriously and maintain high standards, but we are worried this new legislation could be unwieldy, difficult for some businesses to implement and potentially dangerous.”
She went on to say the best way to raise awareness of allergens and to keep diners safe is to promote an active dialogue between customers and businesses.
Nicholls added: “That is why we recommend the promotion of voluntary labelling and encouraging customers to talk to the business and ask about ingredients and possible allergens.
“That way, we can build a relationship between consumers and team members that promotes mindfulness on both sides.
“We are worried full ingredients labelling is going to prevent the kind of dialogue we need to promote. Some smaller businesses may struggle with the unwieldy new legislation and it is almost certainly going to lead to much less choice for customers.
“There is also a risk the new measures, which will not circumvent cross-contamination and will be open to mislabelling, will only promote a dangerous reliance on labelling.”
British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds described a dialogue between businesses and consumers as “important”.
She said: “As a sector, brewers and pubs are fully supportive of efforts to keep consumers safe. For those consumers who have intolerances or sensitivities that go beyond the 14 allergens listed in the food information for consumers, full ingredients listings will help.
“It is also important, however, to continue to encourage dialogue between businesses and consumers, so customers still ask about ingredients and allergens when buying products.
“Although the mandatory introduction of full ingredients labelling is unlikely to impact brewers or pubs as much as other sectors, it is important the Government recognises that smaller producers may struggle to meet new labelling requirements.
“Implementation by the summer of 2021, however, is welcome – particularly for small businesses to allow them time to develop the processes necessary to declare full ingredients information.”