Good information on allergies could be good for business

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Food and beverage outlets are being urged to embrace guidance on allergies as South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) supports a national campaign promoting best practice.

In a report published this summer researchers found that since the introduction of rules requiring food outlets to inform customers if their menus contain ingredients that could cause allergic reactions, people with allergies have become slightly more adventurous about where they eat out.

But with only a slight improvement, and amongst a series of recommendations, the report says businesses should encourage staff to be sympathetic to customers with allergies and that they should include more information on their websites to help diners plan their meals out.

Cllr Dermot Bambridge, SNC’s portfolio holder for environmental services said: “Severe allergic reactions are rarely reported to SNC, and we know from our routine inspections business owners are aware of their responsibility to give customers the information they need to make the right choices about what they eat.

“It is important to remember allergies can be fatal, but equally, good allergy information and practices should be seen as part of a high quality service in which customers can have confidence.”

The report says: “Overall the research indicates that there have been improvements in the eating out experiences of those with a food allergy or intolerance since the implementation of the Food Information Regulations 2014 (FIR) legislation.

“There was greater confidence to ask staff and an increase in the extent to which staff were seen as a resource for confident food choices.

"Starting from a very low base there was a slight increase in how adventurous people felt when they were eating out."

The FIR 2014 requires all food businesses to provide customers with information about certain ingredients known to cause allergic reactions.

There are 14 major allergens which must be declared to customers: cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, molluscs, eggs, fish, peanuts, soybeans, milk, certain nuts, celery, mustard, sesame, sulphur dioxide and lupin.

For more information visit the FSA resources on allergies.

SNC also delivers a series of food safety courses including a CIEH course on serving the allergic and food intolerant customer which costs £25 and can be booked online.