According to the Food Standards Authority (FSA), approximately 2 million people in the UK are living with a diagnosed food allergy. 600,000 have coeliac disease and both of these figures exclude people living with food intolerances such as lactose intolerance.
“Allergy is the most common chronic disease in Europe. Up to 20% of patients with allergies struggle daily with the fear of a possible asthma attack, anaphylactic shock, or even death from an allergic reaction.” (EAACI, 2016)
The FSA’s recent proposed changes would change the rules for food items that are pre-packed, whether they were prepared on-site or off-site. The current rules for food items that are pre-packed and displayed after being prepared on-site state the only ingredients that need to be listed are those that fall within the “allergens and intolerance” category.* If adopted, food that is wrapped and picked up from a shelf, regardless of whether it was made on the premises or not, will need to list all ingredients and highlight all major allergens.
Made to Order
If food is made to order in front of the consumer, the proposed legislation will not impact the existing regulation of no label being required. Signage will still be required, prompting customers to ask for allergen information should they need it. This rule makes the presumption still, that there will be an exchange of information through a conversation with the customer and the server, which provides the opportunity to discuss ingredients and allergens.
Currently, catering businesses are legally required to comply with the FIC Regulations (Food Information to Consumers Regulation) which means that allergen information must be available upon request. The FSA’s proposals potentially require for them to list all ingredients in order to protect customers with food allergies.
Quick Facts Fuelling the FSA’s Considerations
- There are 4,500 UK hospital admissions a year from food allergies.
- There are 10 food allergy deaths per year.
- 1 in 4 people surveyed by the FSA said they or a relative had a reaction eating out.
- 8% of children affected by food allergies or intolerances.
Food labelling has its challenges, whether the consideration is on improving the clarity of ingredients or allergens, the ease of producing food labels or even professionalism and brand image. These are valid concerns that food retailers face in today’s market place. Price Tag printing solutions, such as Edikio, offer alternatives to the labelling methods traditionally used in coffee shops, restaurants and hotels and allows store owners and staff to efficiently design and print appealing price tags whilst saving time and money.
*The information stated in this article is an interpretation of the FSA legislation which should be followed, and can be found here: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/general-food-law