EU food allergy laws force restaurants to inform customers on 14 everyday allergens
According to the new EU legislation, restaurants and takeaways across Europe will be required by law to tell customers if their food contains ingredients known to trigger allergies.
Staff must provide information on 14 everyday allergens including nuts, milk, celery, gluten, soya and wheat.
The new measures, which come into force on December 13, cover meals served in bakeries, cafes, care homes and packaged produce sold by supermarkets.
There may be fines for repeat offenders.
Experts say the majority of these deaths and visits to hospital are avoidable, and some are a result of people being given incorrect information about ingredients.
Businesses can choose how they give the information on allergens contained in their food – for example through conversations with customers, leaflets, food labeling or by highlighting ingredients on menus.
If allergy advice is not clearly given, the Food Standards Agency says there need to be clear signs about where it can be obtained.
Pre-packaged food bought in supermarkets must also have clear allergen information on the labels.
Under the new legislation (EU FIC Food Information for Consumers Regulation), customers must be told if their food contains any of the following:
- celery – including any found in stock cubes and soup
- cereals containing gluten – including spelt, wheat, rye, barley
- crustaceans – e.g. crabs, lobster, prawns and shrimp paste
- eggs – including food glazed with egg
- lupin – can be found in some types of bread, pastries, pasta
- molluscs – mussels, land snails, squid, also found in oyster sauce
- nuts – for example almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia
- peanuts – also found in groundnut oil
- sesame seeds – found in some bread, humus, tahini
- soya – found in beancurd, edamame beans, tofu
- sulphur dioxide – used as a preservative in dried fruit, meat products, soft drinks, vegetables, alcohol.