Our guest post this month is from Alix Baker BA (Hons), MSc, MCIEH, CEnvH, Business Compliance Consultant – Wakefield Council
Alix is starting a project to help hospitality business’s understand Precautionary Allergen Labelling using web based technology, the project aim is guide Food Business Operators (FBOs) to understand processes to be put in place to reduce the risk of cross contamination.
Whilst currently Precautionary Allergen Labelling remains unregulated, regulators (local authorities) from across the UK are reporting a rapid increase in the use of precautionary allergen labelling (PAL), particularly in hospitality retail businesses operated by SMEs.
The Food Standards Agency have recently published the report ‘Insight from UK micro, small and medium sized food businesses and consumers’, which SMEs are reported to be amongst the most vulnerable with the report finding ‘distinctions between allergen labelling and PAL, and their different regulatory requirements, are not clear for a wide range of SMEs across all sectors, and especially for caterers.’
The report supports the call for more to be done, to help SMEs demystify the current narrative surrounding PAL and to help hospitality businesses navigate the complexities often associated with PAL. Wakefield Council have responded to the call by opting to develop an advanced web based self-help technology aimed at SMEs to help them better understand how to effectively risk-assess and apply PAL.
Wakefield Council has been given the green light to develop a unique technology to help businesses improve protection for the Food Hypersensitive (FHS) Customers with food allergies, coeliac disease and food intolerances.
Wakefield Council has been awarded a £66,259 Government grant from the Pioneer Fund to develop the interactive tool for small and medium sized FBOs. It will help them reduce the risk of food being cross-contaminated, which is a potentially life-threatening risk for people with allergies.
The technology would be the first of its kind, and free for businesses to use; helping them to distinguish between controlled and uncontrolled cross-contamination of food allergens. It would improve awareness of how to manage the risks that allergens pose.
Businesses in the Wakefield district and beyond will be able to receive training, and learn what they can do to provide clearer information to consumers.
Cllr Jack Hemingway, Cabinet Member for Climate Change whose portfolio also includes environmental health said: “We are really pleased to have secured this funding, to develop this innovative technology. Sadly, food allergies can have very serious consequences, where people have lost their lives, and it is very important that businesses have access to the tools that will enable them to reduce the risks and keep customers safe.
“We hope that business in our district and across the UK, will benefit from the technology, which when ready will be free to access. And this will help customers to feel safe and confident in their food choices.”
To find out how the technology is being developed and how the Council is supporting businesses, follow these hashtags on social media. #unleashinginnovation #wakefieldcouncil #hereforbusiness
The project has been made possible by a grant from the £12 million Regulators’ Pioneer Fund launched by the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The fund enables UK regulators and local authorities to help create a UK regulatory environment that encourages business innovation and investment.
We will be keeping updated on Alix’s project and keep you informed of any opportunities to take part