According to the British Hospitality Association (BHA), the cost to businesses to implement new EU Food Information Regulations could be up to £200 million per year.
The new regulations, which come into effect on 13 December, require catering businesses, including restaurants and cafes, to accurately track, record and communicate what menu items contain any of 14 of the most common foods to cause allergic reactions, such as nuts, shellfish and eggs.
“These new regulations … will make it easier for people to get information about which allergies are present in the food they are eating out of home,” explained Jackie Grech, BHA policy director, “Food businesses will be expected to learn how best to communicate these new regulations to their customers and the BHA is today launching a toolkit, forum and workshops to help food businesses of all sizes.”
The challenge, says the BHA, will be greatest for restaurants who frequently change recipes or menu items; pop-up or event caterers; establishments with high staff turnover; and smaller establishments who may struggle with the resources to track, identify and record all allergens used from main dishes through to garnishes and drinks. As a result, it calculates that this could cost the industry up to £200 million per year to implement new sourcing and management processes, adapt menus and websites and regularly brief and train staff.
Recent figures from the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology this week have suggested that up to 17% of Europeans now suffer from a food allergy and one in every 70 people are diagnosed as coeliac, with the number of undiagnosed sufferers thought to be as many as 500,000.