A survey of businesses selling non-prepacked food, including restaurants, pubs and hotels, has shown that awareness of the new European food information regulation is low. The study looked specifically at the provision of allergy information to customers. Only one in five of the businesses surveyed were aware of the regulation.
Among those that were aware, follow-up interviews found some confusion about what the new legislation involves and what measures will need to be taken on the subject of allergens. Awareness was highest in Scotland at 30 per cent and lowest in Wales at 14 per cent. Rates of awareness also differed within the catering business sector – from a low of 14 per cent in sandwich shops to a high of 25-26 per cent in pubs and restaurants.
A total of 1,666 businesses were surveyed during the project commissioned by the Food Standards Agency. There were also follow-up interviews with 25 food businesses. The study aimed to provide baseline information on business practices prior to the introduction of new EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) No.1169/2011 and the provisions that will apply from December 2014.
Some of the findings are summarised below, but corporate members of the Campaign are encouraged to read the full report, or at least the summary of the main findings (see link at the end of this article).
Some of the findings
One in five businesses surveyed were aware of new regulation
Three out of five had a policy on allergen information provision (41 per cent a formal written policy, 19 per cent an informal unwritten policy)
Formal policies were more common in restaurant chains, larger businesses and institutions
There was more likely to be information about nuts and gluten than the other 12 allergens specified in the regulation
One in three business owners/managers had received some form of formal training on food allergens
Most of the food businesses provided allergen training for their new staff, supported by a range of written materials such as the FSA voluntary best practice guidance
Half the businesses surveyed ‘always’ checked or audited ingredients from their suppliers or wholesalers; 21 per cent sometimes checked; and 27 per cent never checked.
A few businesses could not provide any allergen information at all. Some focused only on the more common allergens.
Nine out of ten businesses that were aware of the new legislation agreed they would need to make changes, such as requesting more information from contractors, providing more staff training, providing information on a wider range of allergens or being more stringent in record keeping.
Phase two of the study will establish the barriers businesses face in providing customer information on the 14 allergenic ingredients.
Read the Report Here