Focus on Allergens


Food allergens have been associated with a large range of products and it has for some time now been a legal requirement to provide customers with reliable allergen information.

Allergen related incidents have recently made the front pages and there have now been a number of deaths due to poor allergen information being made available to customers.

A recent survey looked at 1000 allergen sufferers and found that 58% of the sufferers have had their allergens triggered when eating out. This is after they had been assured that the food was safe and free from the allergen. 30% of the sufferers managed to control their symptoms with medication, however 1 in 10 people had to seek further medical treatment, and 7% were rushed to hospital. This is a large percentage especially whee considering the current controls. It really should not still be happening!

This survey has now led to the restaurant and takeaway industry being warned that ‘work is needed’ to ensure better allergen information is given to consumers.

The seriousness of allergens cannot be ignored and ensuring food and customers safety must be part of the day to day running of a food business. People have lost their lives and family members due to poor allergen information being given to consumers.

In October 2018, 2 owners of an Indian takeaway were charged with manslaughter due to gross negligence after 15-year-old Megan died following an allergic reaction, even though Megan had informed them of her allergy. The owners are now serving two- and three-year sentences due to poor practices and gross negligence.

Speaking outside court in October, Megan’s father Adam Lee said: “While we may have received some justice with today’s verdicts, we live in hope that today’s result is a warning to other food businesses operating in such a deplorable and ignorant manner to learn from this and improve their standards with immediate effect.”

He continued to say “Do not guess, do not play ignorant, do not play Russian roulette with precious lives.”

It is very important to ensure the following allergen procedures are in place :-

It is vital that strict procedures are followed and staff trained in allergens at site to ensure the safety of consumers.

Please ensure that all sites have the following in place:

  • Allergen statement is completed
  • Allergen signs presented around site for customers to see
  • Allergen matrix for all products with all allergenic ingredients highlighted to be able to present to customer (signed and dated)
  • Recipe of products with list of the ingredients
  • Staff trained
  • Prepare a new information sheet if you change the recipe or change the ingredients.
  • Segregation – Ensure that all allergen products are kept in sealed plastic containers to avoid any cross contamination of products and ensure all allergens ingredients are kept separate.
  • Whilst much focus is placed on the 14 allergens that must be declared by law, it is important to remember that there are many other ingredients that your guests could have an intolerance to. Please ensure that the chef is made aware of any allergens or intolerance.
  • It is very important that the staff both front and back of house work hygienically and utensils are not mixed from product to product, for example for items such as cakes ensure that the handling utensils to pick up from the stand/plate are not mixed from cake to cake.

For further advice, training or assistance, do not hesitate to contact CSC.

We are also pleased to announce that we now offer Allergen Awareness training via our e-Learning portal:

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