Allergen information is very important and within a food business you must, by law, provide full allergen information to all customers. Over recent years this has been heavily enforced by EHO’s when visiting sites, and more recently by trading standards who have been checking that the correct information is being given to customers when requested. It is therefore imperative that the correct information be given out to consumers.
All site must ensure that the following information regarding allergens is provided:
- provide allergen information to the consumer for both pre-packed and non-prepacked food or drink.
- handle and manage food allergens adequately reducing the chance of cross contamination.
- Staff must be trained in allergens.
As caterers and restaurants start to offer more options to suit the consumers’ needs and desires, they must also ensure that the correct information is given out and that the right procedures are being followed at all times.
A number of businesses are now providing products that claim to be ‘free from gluten’ or ‘gluten free’ however, to be able to make this statement certain criteria’s must be met.
The following four principles must be met before being able to state a product is ‘gluten free’:
- The recipe does not include any ingredients from the specified ‘free from’ allergen
- Strict allergen management at site including:
- having separate work surfaces, chopping boards and utensils for foods prepared as ’free from’.
- storing ingredients and prepared foods separately in closed and labelled containers.
- keeping ingredients that contain allergens separate from other ingredients and ideally low on the shelving.
- washing hands thoroughly between preparing dishes with and without certain allergens.
- Have a robust sampling and testing programme at site or head office to be able to show the food products contain less than 20mmg.
- Good practices at site to ensure there is no cross contamination from preparation through to service.
If ALL of the above are not followed, then sites should not be claiming items are ‘gluten free’ or ‘free from gluten’.
It is therefore very important to ensure that there is allergen information and options for people who are gluten free at site.
This can be done by ensuring the following are in place:
- Display of signs to ask a member of staff for allergen information.
- Staff members should be trained and able to show the customer those products which don’t contain gluten-based ingredients using the allergen matrix/information. Please ensure they do explain that products are made in a kitchen which uses gluten.
- Food businesses can use ‘NGCI – No gluten Containing Ingredients’ in menus when listing a group of products/ dishes or in menu titles, to indicate that all the items in question do not have gluten containing ingredients.
Please see the link for guidance and more information on ‘free from’ claims: