A number of Peninsula clients have been asking for advice on the new food safety requirements about allergens which come in to force on 13 December. Although this is a food safety issue rather than about health and safety at work our BusinessSafe 24 Hour Advice Service has been able to offer some help and support.

Requirements about the labelling and supply of consumer information for prepacked foods containing allergens have been in force for many years. From 13 December 2014 pan European requirements will apply to all food (food includes drink) businesses obliging them to provide information about allergenic ingredients used in the food that they sell or provide. Businesses covered will include:

• producers, manufacturers, packers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and caterers involved in pre-packed and non pre-packed foods
• restaurants, cafés, fast food outlets, delicatessens, butchers, bakeries, online food delivery aggregators and institutional caterers (e.g. in schools, hospitals and prisons) and other caterers (including child-minders who provide food)
• catering services provided on transport (e.g. airplanes, trains and ships) leaving from any EU Member State.

There are 14 major allergens which need to be declared:
• Cereals containing gluten (wheat such as spelt and Khorasan), rye, barley, oats and their hybridised strains
• Crustaceans
• Eggs which includes hen, duck, goose and ostrich etc.
• Fish
• Peanuts
• Soybeans
• Milk which includes cows, goats, sheep etc.
• Nuts (almond, hazelnut, walnut, cashew, pecan nut, Brazil nut, pistachio nut and macadamia nut (also known as Queensland nut))
• Celery (including celery leaves, seeds and celeriac)
• Mustard
• Sesame
• Sulphur dioxide or sulphites (where added and above 10mg/kg of the finished product. Often found in dried fruit and wine)
• Lupin
• Molluscs

The requirements for allergen labelling and or the supply of allergen information are set out on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website along with a detailed question and answer page which gives a lot of specific detail and helpful advice for each allergen and specific products.

We are aware that there are a number of commercial organisations offering training in the requirements. However, the FSA also provides at no charge an online food allergy training course. Originally developed by the agency for enforcement officers the course could be of interest and benefit to food business operators, workers involved in selling or producing food or anyone wanting to learn more about food allergies. The training consists of 6 study modules and associated tests. Successful completion of all 6 modules generates a continuing professional development (CPD) certificate. This free course may provide all the training you need for your business.

The BusinessSafe 24 Hour Advice Service can be reached on 0844 892 2785.