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SIBA Quarterly Journal June 2014

Update to Food Labelling Regs Brings Major Changes for Food & Drink Businesses

13 December 2014 is an important date for food and drink businesses and for anyone who suffers from food allergies or intolerances.  Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers has a number of provisions coming into force on that date.

Malcolm Ireland, Head of Leisure & Licensing, works closely with consultants at trading standards legislation specialists Strawberry Standards, who provide technical and regulatory support to the food, drinks and allied industries.  For this article Malcolm has invited Strawberry Standards to outline the forthcoming changes and clarify what these changes will mean for SIBA members. 

Food Labelling Advisor, Joanne Hubbard of Strawberry Standards writes:

The change coming into force on 13 December 2014 is an update to the old Food Labelling Regulations and takes account of changing consumer habits and expectations. This new Regulation is not only related to food labelling but also to providing food information to consumers and helping them make an informed choice.

One important new provision from this date is a requirement to provide information to consumers on potential allergens in non-prepacked food and drinks.  Previously this information was required only on prepacked food.

This change will impact licensees and caterers hugely, as they will be required to provide information to consumers on the presence in their products of any ingredient or processing aid from a list of 14 substances that can cause allergies or intolerances.

Businesses providing non-prepacked food or drinks for sale must know what is in the products they are selling.  They must be able to provide accurate information to the consumer on the presence in these products of allergens such as barley, wheat, rye, peanuts, milk, sulphur dioxide, fish and egg and ingredients produced from these allergens, such as casein from milk.

This applies to all drinks being offered for sale by a food business operator – including alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine.  This has implications for publicans as beer is made from ingredients which are allergens such as barley, and wine can contain allergens in the form of sulphur dioxide and fining agents derived from egg and milk.

The information can be provided in a variety of ways.  The most important thing is that the food business operator must know if the allergen is there and they must be able to provide the information prior to sale.  It will not be acceptable to state that an allergen might be in the food. Therefore, information can be provided on menus, notices, electronically or verbally, so long as it is given before the sale of the food and is accurate. It must include a clear reference to the name of the potential allergen.

In order to do this, businesses will need to have a clear understanding of all sources of the potential allergens and will need to be provided with accurate information by their suppliers. Stringent systems and training will need to be implemented to ensure compliance, particularly if the choice is to provide information verbally.

Strawberry Standards offer training on the requirements of the Regulations and can provide advice and guidance.  Feel free to contact them for an initial chat on 0845 548 8900.