Understanding the new EU Allergenic Regulations: Significant implications for all Food Businesses

Written on 4 Dec 2014

The recent increase in numbers and severity of those suffering from allergies in the Western World has seen the EU respond by implementing new regulations. The UK is implementing the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on 13 December 2014 through the Food Information Regulations 2014 (FIR) effecting substantial changes to how allergens should be brought to customers’ attention. All food businesses should take note as it’s likely to be backed up with Improvement Notice penalties for non-compliance.

Non-pre-packaged Food

The current Regulation states that food businesses supplying prepackaged food have to identify any of 14 specified ingredients. FIR will broaden the current requirements to cover ‘non-pre-packaged’ food with implications for hotels, restaurants, cafes, delis, and take away restaurants (both suppliers of food and those providing the delivery service). It will require suppliers of ‘non-pre-packaged’ food to identify any of the 14 ingredients at the point of sale and the point of delivery (if off site). FIR is not prescriptive re how the allergen information is given, it can be oral or written and where the information is not provided upfront, clear signposting to where this information could be obtained must be provided. The rules will only cover information about major allergens intentionally used as ingredients, not allergens present following accidental contact.

Pre-packaged Food and Best Practice

FIR also sets out more prescriptive rules regarding labelling requirements for all prepackaged foods alongside a comprehensive guidance document setting out “retailer agreed” best practice. This covers off everything from how and where to highlight potential allergens to the minimum script size for warnings.

FIR is going to have a significant impact on all food businesses; producers of non-prepackaged food should get a policy in place which can be consistently applied and those producing pre-packaged foodstuffs should review FIR and the technical guidance to ensure they comply.

For more information see here.