Menu mistakes a recipe for disaster

Rob Stordy
Rob Stordy

Food outlets from top restaurants to tea rooms must make sure they comply with new regulations which make them responsible for telling customers about potentially lethal allergens in the dishes they supply, a chef at the University of Derby Buxton has warned.

Chef Lecturer Rob Stordy said European Union regulations mean that from December it is the retailers’ responsibility to give clear information about food allergens in their menu items.

“Ten people in the United Kingdom die each year from an allergic reaction to certain foods and many more end up in hospital,” said Rob, a former University Chef of the Year.

“In most cases, the food that causes the reaction is from a food outlet.”

The new rules mean it is no longer just the customer’s responsibility to ask what is in a dish.

“Restaurants, cafes, pubs, takeaways, delis and bakeries will have to provide clear information about the food allergens in their menu items,” said Rob, who is concerned that smaller retailers may not be aware of the change.

“Even large companies who already have allergen policies in place are making mistakes with mislabelling and miscommunication.

“Allergens will need to be highlighted on menus, packaging and displays. Verbal information may be provided; however, written confirmation of the details will be required and customers can request this at any time.”

The allergens prescribed in the new EU FIR 1169/2011 laws are: gluten-containing cereals, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, peanuts, lupin, tree nuts (such as walnut, hazelnut, almond etc.), soya, eggs, milk, celery, mustard, sesame and sulphur dioxide.