Bar industry prepares for new allergen law for food and drink

TCG allergens

Bar and pub operators and training companies are ready for new legislation that requires staff to be able to provide information on allergens in food and drinks.

Managed pub and bar group TCG has ensured that all its kitchen and front-of-house staff now have full allergen information available for every dish sold across the business (pictured).

Allergens training now forms part of TCG’s core training programme so staff understand their responsibilities, know where to find the information when asked and can recognise the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

From December 13 this year, all food businesses in the UK will be required to provide details of any of 14 allergens contained in food and drink to their customers on request.

As well as being aware of how to access the information about the food on offer, there are a number of other obligations for staff which need to be incorporated into employee training.

Leading hospitality training company CPL Online has launched a new e-learning course on food allergens, entitled Allergen Awareness, accredited by licensed trade body BIIAB.

Hospitality e-learning specialist Train4Academy has launched a comprehensive training module to prepare staff for the new allergen laws as part of its Train4Food Food Hygiene programme.

TCG director of operations Ben Levick said: “Compliance with the new legislation was built into the planning process for autumn menus from the word go. We’ve worked with our menu consultant FoodWorks to ensure that we have a full list of the ingredients used in all the dishes served across the business, both established favourites and new additions.

“We’ve also ensured that the information is also available where our pubs and bars offer breakfast or other special menus, as well for the full range of cocktails served across all our venues, along with beer, wine and other drinks. Every venue will have an allergens folder containing details for each.

“In common with other operators, we’re having to deal with new legislation coming into force at the busiest time of year for food sales. Everyone, from our menu development team through to trainers, general managers, chefs and the staff on the front line, has worked hard to ensure that we are fully compliant and will be ready to deal with customer enquiries when the rules change on December 13.”

CPL Online’s Allergen Awareness course is designed to introduce learners to the rules and legislation around food labelling and catering in relation to food allergies and allergenic ingredients. It is delivered in five units: “Allergies and their effect in the body”, “Rules and Legislation”, “Labelling”, “In the Restaurant” and “Responsibilities”.

After completing the course, learners will be able to identify the 14 allergens, and products of them, that must be labelled as being present in foods, state the applicable law, know important definitions in relation to where food is sold and how it is packaged, define food allergy and allergic reactions in the body and list symptoms of allergic reactions.

They will also be able to outline the difference between food allergy and food intolerance, understand the key rules and legislation surrounding food labelling and catering, state which staff members are impacted by legislation, and identify the responsibilities of the operator and the consumer in relation to the provision of allergen information.

At the end of the course participants will be required to answer 30 questions, 70% of which must be correct to achieve a pass.

David Dasher, CPL Online’s managing director, said: “This course offers operators a quick and cost effective solution to ensure employees are compliant with all allergen-related EU regulations. The course not only comprehensive and compliant but is delivered using imaginative animation and technology that is engaging for the e-learner.”

British Institute of Innkeeping’s Gareth Phillips said: “The introduction of the EU Legislation relating to the food labelling and in particular allergens will have a far-reaching impact on our industry.

“This BII-accredited course created by CPL Online is a perfect solution for individuals in the industry wanting to get up to speed with the subject and for larger hospitality businesses to ensure their employees are compliant.”

The new module in Train4Academy’s Food Hygiene programme enables hospitality and foodservice employees to understand their new responsibilities under the Food Information Regulations 2011.

It allows staff to study the relevant information online, and then answer multiple choice questions to demonstrate their understanding. Topics covered in the training include knowing what substances and allergens are in the food products they prepare and serve, understanding the importance of preventing cross-contamination of allergens in food, and spotting the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

The allergens module will go into more detail than the information on the new legislation included in the Food Hygiene Certificate, and has been accredited by both the CIEH and City & Guilds.

Janet Bridgewater, director of Train4Academy, said: “There’s inevitably been a great deal of focus on the start date of December 13 when the new legislation comes into force, in terms of asking ‘will the industry be ready?’.

“What’s far more important is that operators recognise this is an ongoing obligation for all food businesses. Whether or not all staff are fully up to speed by day one, allergen awareness needs to be permanently embedded into the business in terms of training and good practice in order to comply with the law.

“Our new allergen awareness e-learning module has been developed to fit into the Food Hygiene training that is familiar to the tens of thousands of employees who use our distance learning programmes.

“It enables them to fit training around their work and home lives, and so is the quickest and most convenient way for employers to ensure their business complies with the new regulations.

“Although there has been a great deal of focus on the allergens aspect of the new legislation, there is also a requirement to be aware of other potential hazards such as biological, chemical and physical contamination of food. The new module covers the full scope of the legislation so employers can be sure that their staff are fully trained.”

The NHS estimates that there are 20 to 30 deaths from anaphylaxis, the most severe allergic reaction, in the UK each year. Between 2% and 3% of the adult population have a food allergy while 6% of children suffer from food allergies.

The 14 allergens that must be clearly highlighted when serving food and drink

• Cereals containing gluten, such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut, and products thereof
• Crustaceans, for example prawns, crab, lobster and crayfish
• Eggs
• Fish
• Peanuts
• Soybeans
• Milk
• Celery
• Mustard
• Sesame
• Nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio, cashew and macadamia (Queensland) nuts
• Sulphur dioxide and sulphites
• Lupin
• Molluscs for example clams, mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid

(Source: Bidvest 3663)

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