December 4 2014

'Food Information for Consumers Regulation' becomes mandatory this month

We are proud to welcome our new columnist David Rose to The Pig Guide. David has been a lover of good food and cooking since he was a small child, when he used to sit in the kitchen, one eye on his homework, the other watching his mum cooking interesting dishes from around the world. Diagnosed as a Coeliac in 2011, David has since been championing gluten free dining in Bath. Although he runs a software business by day, he is often found on Twitter recommending what and where gluten free visitors to Bath can eat (@david_navigator). In his first column for The Pig Guide, David talks us through (and offers his opinion on) the Food Information for Consumers Regulation which is due to become mandatory this month.

One of the biggest changes in dining out is about to happen. On Saturday 13 December, the Food Information for Consumers Regulation becomes law; from this date, restaurants, cafes, delis, takeaways and anywhere else that sells food will have to know – and, most importantly, be able to clearly inform their customers – which of the 14 allergens detailed within the Regulation are present in their dishes. With an increasing number of consumers intolerant to one or more of these allergens, this can only be good news for diners.

Most of Bath’s chefs and restaurateurs have been planning for this initiative to come into force for quite some time – which is just as well, as there’s a lot to do. Not only do they have to analyse their own recipes and talk to suppliers, but they also have to document the allergens contained in all the ingredients they use, including ‘hidden ingredients’ such as wheat in soy sauce. Kitchen processes need updating too to make sure there is no risk of cross-contamination in storage, preparation, display and service procedures. As someone who has to maintain a gluten free diet, I’m hoping that most chefs will annotate their menus to show which allergens are contained in each dish, but as this is not a mandatory requirement, they could decide to keep a separate allergen chart or rely on staff to give the correct information. But which method and outlet chooses, it will still need to ensure that all staff, whether front of house or in the kitchen, are fully trained to give the individual diner accurate advice. Although this is quite a lot of work, for the allergy-suffering diner its essential, and I’m confident that chefs will see the new regulations as a positive challenge to produce new, interesting, tasty dishes that are allergen-free.

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