What the new Allergen Labelling Laws are and what businesses need to do and by when...
Let’s talk about the new Allergen Labelling laws! The way food businesses provide allergen labelling information for Pre-packed food for Direct Sale (PPDS) will change from 1st October 2021.
All PPDS food will have to clearly display the following information on the packaging:
- Name of the food,
- Full ingredients list
- Allergenic ingredients emphasised within the list (for example in bold, italics or a different colour)
Are you producing food pre-packed for sale? The first step is to consider if any of your food operations fall within the criteria for being classed as PPDS.
PPDS food is food that is packed before being offered for sale by the same food business to the final consumer:
For example, if you’re preparing the trusted BLT sandwich that you’ve lovingly made in the morning, wrapped and placed it in a Grab & Go Fridge for Sale later in the day or a fresh salad boxes made up and displayed in advance. Even pies heated and pre-wrapped before placing into a hot cabinet – these are all classed as PPDS.
If businesses do have foods that are classed as PPDS then they will need to consider how these will be labelled going forward to fit in with the new requirements described above. Information on the labels must be accurate and clear and not misleading in any way, and must be applied consistently across the product range to avoid any confusion.
These changes will provide essential information to help people with a food allergy or intolerance to make safe choices when buying PPDS food, particularly at self-service order points or checkouts where there is no interaction with staff before making choices or purchases.
The importance of allergen tracking and traceability and what happens if you don't clearly state allergens
Putting it simply; allergen information needs to be accurate and readily available. There needs to be one chosen method that is implemented consistently to avoid instances of providing inaccurate information that may cause an allergy suffer to become ill, or even die, from a reaction if the allergy is so severe.
Allergy controls are required right the way through the catering ‘process flow’ from receipt from the Supplier, to storage, preparation, handling and cooking, and ultimately to the Front of House Staff taking food orders and serving food. If checks aren’t made, or controls aren’t in place, an allergy incident could occur. Allergens are a food safety hazard an should be covered in your company HACCP and Food Safety Management System.
Allergen Management is a huge responsibility and food businesses failing to comply could be prosecuted. Most notably, Pret A Manger faces trial after student had severe allergic reaction to sesame in sandwich that ‘was not correctly labelled’. This case has now led to Natasha’s Law, which is due to come into effect October 2021.
The fines are also sizeable, The Artichoke, Croxley Green, was fined £23,000 for serving a diner food containing milk despite her pre-warning staff of her severe dairy and other allergies.
So tracking and tracing allergen and having complete confidence that you know exactly what is in your food is so important. There is digital food safety software and tools which can help you do this with ease.
Health and Safety best practice tips for managing allergens
Please feel free to download and share the below infographic on managing allergens. We’ve included a bit more detail below too!
- Engage with Suppliers and build good relationships to be able to keep updated on any product or ingredient changes quickly. Act on these updates immediately ensuring all associated documentation is revised and communicated.
2. Keep menus small and simple. Review the extent of your ingredients used minimising allergenic ingredients wherever possible. You can make ‘quick fix’ changes that will ensure your menu is suitable for as many allergy sufferers as possible for example, by using cornflour to thicken dishes, avoiding egg / milk glaze on pies and minimising food garnishes or toppings.
3. Take a look at your cooking processes too – avoid adding vinegar to water when poaching eggs and shared use of fryers.
4. Only keep one copy of your current Allergen Matrix – this makes it easier to manage and will avoid any issues with version control where staff could potentially be referring to an old document.
5. Staff training and communication are key. Staff must be suitably trained in Allergy Awareness and the consequences and how to respond to an allergy sufferers questions. Training should be completed and tested regularly to ensure the team are competent and confident in dealing with Allergens. Regular spot checks and ‘quick fire’ questions will keep the staff alert and ready to act on any customer requests.
6. Communication between the Front and Back of House Teams is essential. Systems should be simple so they are easy to implement and maintain. Designating a person as an Allergy Champion is an effective means of co-ordinating allergy management in Catering.
Allergen Management made easy
Navitas provide a digital food safety solution which includes allergen management software for tracking and tracing and an allergen labelling printer. You’ll always be able to prove you’ve provided legally compliant allergen information and our system makes it super easy. You can check our our allergen management solution on our digital food safety page.