Food businesses reminded about allergen safety

10 September 2020

FOOD outlets are being asked to remember the requirement to safeguard people with allergies and intolerances at the same time as making their businesses Covid-19 secure.

South Lakeland District Council is contacting food businesses to highlight Food Safety Management procedures and officers are available to provide support and guidance. 

Businesses are being signposted to the Food Standards Agency's recently-updated Safer Food Better Business pack. Full completion and implementation of this pack is one way to comply with the requirement to put in place and document food safety management procedures.

The full pack is available from The Food Standards Agency: Safer food, better business.

Food business operators in the retail and catering sector are required to provide allergen information and follow labelling rules as set out in food law. This means that food business operators must:

  • provide allergen information to the consumer for both prepacked and non-prepacked food and drink;
  • handle and manage food allergens effectively in food preparation.

Food businesses must make sure that staff receive training on allergens.

Restaurants and food businesses providing food by delivery or takeaway must make sure their business is compliant with allergen and hygiene requirements for distance selling. If food is sold online or by phone through distance selling, allergen information must be provided at two stages in the order process. The business must provide allergen information:

  • before the purchase of the food is completed - this can be in writing (on a website, catalogue or menu) or orally (by phone);
  • when the food is delivered - this can be in writing (allergen stickers on food or an enclosed copy of a menu) or verbally (by delivery driver).

Councillor Suzie Pye, Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing and Financial Resilience, said: "Business in the district are doing a tremendous job adapting to the many challenges brought about by keeping staff and customers safe from coronanvirus, which is all on top of all the other regulations and guidelines they have always worked to.

"But food allergies are a serious concern and this is a safety message which warrants repeating. Having good systems of work to deal with this and clear customer information is paramount and we urge businesses to review their compliance, if they have not already done so after opening again coming out of lockdown."

Members of the public with allergies or intolerances are also being reminded of the precautions they need to take when eating out.

When you eat out or order a takeaway, the restaurant or café must provide you with allergen information. This could be, for example,  allergen information on their menu or a prompt explaining how you can obtain this information. This may include advice that you ask a member of staff about the allergen contents of a dish you might want to order.

When you plan to eat out or order a takeaway, always check the menu online or call ahead to ask what their policy is on food allergy and intolerance.

Be clear about your allergy or intolerance when making your order and give examples of the foods that give you a reaction.

You can ask:

  • Does the food business offer meals that are suitable for you?
  • If not, are the staff able to make a safe dish for you?
  • How is the food handled in the kitchen - is there a chance of allergen cross-contamination from cooking equipment or ingredients?
  • Has there been a last-minute recipe change or ingredient substitution?