North Lincolnshire Council is reminding food businesses in the area that they need to be ready to provide information for allergy sufferers as to what ingredients are in food.
New rules are coming into effect from December 13, 2014 that will change the way food businesses provide allergen information.
Currently, when supermarket bakeries, delis, cafes and restaurants for example sell loose foods they don’t have to provide information to customers about food allergens.
Following the new rules all food businesses will need to verbally explain or signpost allergenic information for the food they sell or provide.
Food allergies can cause life-threatening reactions and the numbers of people with this condition are growing.
The primary cause of food allergy deaths in the UK is due to allergic reactions when food is consumed outside the home where allergenic ingredients have not been declared.
The new rules will mean that all food businesses will need to inform customers if any of 14 allergenic ingredients are present in the food they make or serve. This can be communicated to customers in writing on menus, verbally through explanations by staff or signposted to where or how more information can be found.
Although the new EU rules are coming into force in December 2014 they were published in October 2011 to give food businesses three years to get ready for the new provisions.
North Lincolnshire Council is also working together with other local councils and the Food Standard’s Agency (FSA) to make sure businesses know what to do and how to provide safe food for those with food allergies and intolerances.
Councillor Nigel Sherwood, cabinet member for highways and neighbourhoods, said: “All food businesses in North Lincolnshire should be ready to provide this vital information in December. We understand food businesses work long hours, leaving little time to read through new guidance. However, easy-to-understand information is available on the Food Standard’s Agency website to help businesses with these changes.
“Businesses could be missing out on vital custom by not providing clear and accurate allergen information about the food they sell or serve. If any businesses needs advice and guidance on the new rules they can get in touch with our Trading Standards team on 01724 297664.”
Dr Chun-Han Chan from the Food Standard’s Agency, said: “Food allergies affect approximately five to 8 per cent of children and one to two per cent of adults. This means that around two million people in the UK are living with a food allergy. People will food allergies can react to very small amounts of food, such as a teaspoon of yoghurt, a single peanut or even an egg glaze to brush over pies.
“There is no cure for food allergies, so the only way for people to manage the condition is to avoid the food that makes them ill. This is why providing accurate food allergen labelling and information is important and why food businesses, local councils and Food Standards Agency are all working together to ensure consumers have clear and accurate information.”