News Release: Over 80 businesses seek advice from The Food Allergy Training Consultancy

23 October 2013

Links to Presentations Here

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Photo of Speakers Left to Right:

Front Row: Sue Hattersley, The Food Standards Agency,  Lynne Regent, The Anaphylaxis Campaign, Karen Fewell, Digital Blonde, Alexa Barracaia, Food Allergy Mum,  Catherine Salloux, Ask Italian

Back Row: Sally Trice, Consultant, Caroline Benjamin, Food Allergy Training Consultancy,  Simon Flanagan, Reading Scientific Services,Catherine Hinchcliff, 3663, Wan Mak & David Mulcahy, Sodexo UK & Ireland

Local news feature on YouTube with reference the event

Over 80 businesses from across the country have attended a launch event for The Food Allergy Training Consultancy to gain advice on how to fully prepare for massive changes to food labelling legislation taking place next year.  The event, held yesterday at the Novotel Hotel in Southampton, saw over 25 major UK organisations supporting the activities by speaking at the event, sharing their expertise and showcasing fantastic ‘free-from’ products to delegates.

Major Changes to EU Food Labelling Laws:

There are an estimated 21 million adults in the UK who suffer from at least one allergy, yet many food businesses have little knowledge in this area, and many are unaware of the imminent legal changes.  From December 2014, current EU food labelling laws will change meaning all establishments or suppliers providing food products will need to provide full allergy information to customers.  There are 14 different food allergens which will need to be clearly listed in order to comply with the new laws.  This includes on packaging, menus, shelving or information provided by staff (who will need to know the contents of each product).  Trading Standards will be enforcing the new requirements once they come into force and non-compliance could result in prosecutions.

The launch event saw key industry leaders come together to explore the issue in depth and advise on the best practice techniques to succeed in this area.  Catherine Salloux opened the event highlighting the major progress that ASK Italian has made to their menus to identify nut contents, vegetarian suitability of meals, and the development of Non Gluten Containing Ingredients (NGCI).

Lynne Regent, CEO of The Anaphylaxis Campaign provided some hard hitting facts.  22% of the population believe they have a food allergy, meaning the issue is not niche and is indeed on the increase worldwide.  1/50 children will have a nut allergy, and peanut allergy cases alone have tripled in the last decade. There are around 20 recorded deaths per year as a result of a food allergy.

Food allergy mum and Journalist, Alexa Baracaia, spoke from the heart on life as a mum of a 3 year old with multiple food allergies.  The reality means suitable foods are either not available or not easily accessible.  The weekly shop means visiting 8-10 different supermarkets, followed by calls to manufacturers to clarify the contents and factory processes (for risks of contamination), and companies often take weeks to respond.  She highlighted key suppliers and what food companies can do to win business from a food allergy customer.

Sue Hattersley from The Food Standards Agency, spoke about the legislation specifically.  Over 2 million people in the UK have their food choice dictated by their allergy/intolerance.  Some can react to as little as 1mg of food.  Labelling changes must be complete by 13th December 2014, and must be available upon request on menus, in information folders or verbally by trained staff.

Michelle Berriedale-Johnson from Foods Matter/Free-From Awards, discussed the benefits of providing for the food allergy customer and doing it well.  In the last 4 years the UK Free-From market has grown over 60%.  The Free-From Awards have been launched to recognise best practice in the industry.

Nicola Hutchins from Blake Lapthorn Solicitors covered the legal implications of non-compliance of the new laws, which could ultimately see company fines of up to £5,000 per breach.  She also reviewed recent local prosecutions, such as the Jamie Oliver restaurant in Portsmouth.

Digital Blonde’s Karen Fewell, hosted the conference and highlighted the power of social media for customer feedback, and particularly the opportunities with the popular activity of food photo sharing.  In the last 30 days alone, there have been 17,953 mentions of ‘Gluten Free’ on social media, highlighting the subject as a continuing hot topic.

Reading Scientific Services’ Simon Flanagan demonstrated that using best practice in food preparation, storage, cleanliness, training and communication means that most kitchens can indeed cater for both regular meals and the food allergy customer.

Catherine Hinchcliff of major food supplier 3663 discussed the changes they have incorporated to help businesses with food procurement.  Working with Coeliac UK, 3663 have launched 48 Gluten Free products in the last month.

Sodexo UK & Ireland serve over 1 million meals a day.  Wan Mak and David Mulcahy discussed how a large scale company can still make these changes successfully by engaging with chefs to create great recipes using Free-From products.  They have also rolled out a mandatory e-learning scheme for staff.

Caroline Benjamin organised the event and set-up The Food Allergy Training Consultancy to help businesses, offering both training and consultancy services.  She said: “I am thrilled that so many businesses from across the country have come together to find out more about their responsibilities of accurate food labelling going forward.  The new legislation really will mean significant changes for all food businesses, both large and small, and I hope the delegates now have more understanding on the preparation required to meet the compulsory regulations.  The best practice techniques demonstrated really have been inspiring.  If food businesses or venues have any further queries or would like more advice and support, then we are here to help in any way we can.”

Martin Aslin from Keats Restaurant, Romsey attended the event.  He said: “A good debate from all section of the retail personnel and local authority; it was very informative to me and my business going forward.”

Also attending Sue Howlett, Food Technical and Quality Systems Manager at WSH, said “Many congratulations on an excellent conference today, most enjoyable and informative from start to finish, with a great choice of speakers.”

Lynne Regent, CEO Anaphylaxis Campaign stated “I thoroughly enjoyed presenting at the Food Allergy Training Consultancy’s seminar.  It was great to spend the day with such a committed group who want to improve food service for the allergic population– an issue which is particularly important with the new EU food regulations that will come into force next year.  We have been doing a lot of work on this issue at the Anaphylaxis Campaign so it was great to share ideas and insights into how future changes in the law will affect the food industry and the food allergic consumer”

– ENDS –

Food Allergy Training Consultancy – Background

Caroline Benjamin (50) is a food intolerance sufferer from Eastleigh in Hampshire. Over the last 13 years, her experiences of eating out have resulted in minimal choice, high costs and a lack of knowledge on the consequences of serving food containing allergens. This combined with the major changes to food laws, has seen Caroline establish herself as a ‘one-stop-shop’ on all things food allergy related.   As a result she has created the Food Allergy Training Consultancy to help food businesses and venues improve their product offering and knowledge, and prepare for major changes to EU food labelling legislation.

*Major UK companies supporting the event included: The Food Standards Agency, The Anaphylaxis Campaign, Sodexo, 3663, Ask Italian, Trading Standards, Reading Scientific Services, Foods Matter & FreeFrom Food Awards, Tourism South East,  Blake Lapthorn,  Sodexo UK & Ireland, Link   Warburtons, Young’s Seafood, Celia, Udi’s Gluten Free (Boulder Brands), Red House Foods, Glebe Farm, Venice Bakery, Newburn Bakehouse, Atkins & Potts, Menu Analyser, Uncle Bens, Elena’s Gluten Free Way, Mozzarisella, Digital Blonde, Green Beers,  Link

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Media Enquiries:

FATC Caroline Benjamin 07732 637292
Food Standards Agency Amy Cope, Press Officer 020 7276 8817



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