"Think allergy" advice on allergy laws anniversary

13 December 2017

13 December 2017 is the third anniversary of the introduction of allergy legislation which requires allergen information to be provided for all foods.

Throughout 2017, Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Trading Standards officers have randomly sampled food at a selection of local takeaways and restaurants.  They wanted to check consumers were being given what they asked for and that allergen management was all that it should be.  Officers purchased fish and meat meals to check what they actually contained.

Food premises with low hygiene scores were selected to be tested in the expectation that this would be likely to identify “worst case” issues for consumers.

There was some good news for consumers:
  • In some cases, but unfortunately not all, there was evidence of good allergen labelling on menus and good allergen management
  • All the cod and haddock checked were verified as cod or haddock and not a cheaper fish species.
  • Lamb was verified as the meat in a lamb korma in three out of five samples taken with local businesses not proven “at fault” where beef was found.
Top tips for food businesses:
  • Check all your food labels for allergens
  • Look out for ‘may contain’ statements on the food labels of any ingredients you use
  • Communicate clearly and honestly with your customers about the ingredients in your food
The Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Councillor Karen Shore said: “As a result of this project the Council will be continuing to alert food businesses about the need for good allergen management and encouraging enhanced allergen information, as well as rechecking all businesses where concerns were identified.

“We want all our residents to be safe. So, if you are an allergy sufferer don’t make assumptions based on the menu, speak to the owner or manager about your allergies and if in doubt don’t consume the food.” The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has produced ‘Think Allergy’ chef cards which allergy sufferers can fill in with the allergies that they must avoid and hand to staff when eating out.

These can be downloaded from the FSA website www.food.gov.uk. If you have concerns about practices in any food business please contact Citizen’s Advice Consumer Service on 0345 404 0506.

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