Allergies affect millions of people all over the world; therefore, caterers have an important responsibility to make sure that no allergens come into contact with diners. There is strict legislation in place that helps protect diners from allergic reactions, so read on to find out more about catering legislation in relation to food allergies.

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Food Information for Consumers Regulation 2014

The Food Information for Consumers Regulation 2014 is a highly important piece of legislation for caterers. It has been designed to help allergy sufferers to identify which foods are safe to eat and which foods are dangerous.

Allergies can result in serious illnesses or death. Caterers who violate the EU ruling could face criminal prosecution, which is why it is vital for employees within the industry to understand the ruling.

Common allergens

The law states that there are 14 primary allergens that should always be clearly labelled if they appear in any packaged foods. The law also states how the allergens must be labelled and distinguished from other ingredients.

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Common allergens include gluten, crustaceans, fish, peanuts, eggs, lactose, celery, mustard, sesame, sulphites, molluscs and lupin.

In situations where labels are not used, employees must have the right knowledge so that they can give information accurately if asked. Caterers must know what the food they serve contains and allergy advice must always be available to access in all restaurants.

Avoiding cross-contamination

Legislation also insists that food preparation areas are secure against cross-contamination. This means that the correct food handling techniques are vital in relation to storage, equipment, hand washing, cutlery, and the day-to-day management of the kitchen.

Caterers should be aware of hazard analysis and critical control points, often abbreviated to HACCP. This is a food preparation approach that ensures foods are safe and is discussed in detail by the Food Standards Authority.

One way to avoid cross contamination is to ensure the proper equipment is in good working order in a kitchen; for example, fridges and freezers should seal well. Also refrigerated display counters, such as those available from stockists such as, should be cleaned using the appropriate methods to ensure proper hygiene.

If all hygiene standards are maintained, the right labelling and information is always available and staff are trained in allergens, caterers will adhere to the Food Information for Consumers Regulation 2014.