The changes foodservice companies face with the entry into force of the new Food Information for Consumers Regulations at the end of the year

New regulations surrounding sign-posting of information about allergens contained in food bought out-of-home will come into force in the EU in December 2014.

The Food Information for Consumers Regulations will have a significant impact on the food industry as they will require all food operators to inform consumers on whether any of the 14 allergens in the regulations are contained in the food they sell or serve.

The legislation is vital to ensure that those with food allergies and intolerances can feel confident about eating out-of-home. According to Allergy UK, the UK is one of the top three countries in the world for the highest incident of allergies. Recent studies have confirmed a significant increase in the incidence of food allergies, particularly amongst children (Allergy UK) with six to eight per cent of children having a proven food allergy (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2011).

Like other food service providers, Sodexo is implementing processes to ensure that the company will be prepared to face these significant changes.

Sodexo’s strong track record in the healthcare and education sectors - in which allergen-awareness is crucial – has put it in a leading position to cater for customers with food allergies.

One of the most important undertakings for any foodservice business in the lead up to December will be the need to have a comprehensive database of ingredients, complete with relevant allergens data. Since 2009, when Sodexo became an early signatory of the Food Standards Agency’s calorie labelling initiative, the company has been collecting nutritional data from suppliers, including data about allergens. This information has now been stored in Sodexo’s central ingredients and online recipe database and will be used to help staff provide the relevant information to consumers.

Given the scale of Sodexo’s business and the vastly different food environments it operates in, the database will act as the basis for Sodexo’s approach to ensuring full compliance with the regulation, with a tailored information delivery process for different site settings.

Most importantly, Sodexo’s experience shows that companies will need to put in place a clear line of command and responsibility for allergen information collection and dissemination at each site. ‘Allergen coordinators’ are employed at each school catered for by Sodexo to ensure that all pupils are supported when deciding on meal choices.

A necessity in the run-up to December will be that foodservice companies train their relevant staff on the changes in the legal requirements, the processes they are putting in place to comply and the sources of information on the allergens contained in the ingredients used.

In order to ensure that Sodexo’s teams are prepared, a tailored training programme has been put in place. Information about safely managing allergens has always formed an important part of the ‘Food Passport’ food safety training.

In readiness for the regulatory change, this will be supplemented with extra training and briefing sessions, including an e-learning programme as well as face-to-face sessions.

While the new regulation clearly presents challenges for the foodservice industry, it is vital that customers with food allergies feel confident about eating safely out-of-home and have exciting and interesting options they can choose from.

Author: Wan Mak, Head of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sodexo UK and Ireland

Find out more about Sodexo by viewing their company profile, here.



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