Website URL : http://www.cherwell.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=12237

Businesses urged to embrace allergy awareness

Food and beverage outlets are being told good information on allergies can be good for business, as Cherwell District Council supports a national campaign promoting best practice.

In a report* published in July this year researchers found that since the introduction of rules requiring food outlets to be aware of ingredients that cause allergic reactions, and to make customers aware if their menus contain them, people with allergies have become slightly more adventurous about where they eat.

But with only a slight improvement, and amongst a series of recommendations, the report says business should embrace the legislation by encouraging staff to be more sympathetic to customers with allergies and to include more information on their websites to help diners plan where they eat.

Cllr Kieron Mallon, Cherwell's lead member for public protection and community services, said: "When Cherwell officers inspect food businesses they make sure that business owners and operators are aware of their responsibility in providing consumers, particularly those that suffer from specific allergies,  with the right information in order that they can make informed choices about what they eat.

"That is backed up by the rarity of severe allergic reactions reported to us.

"Allergies can be fatal, but it's important for businesses to understand that good practice not only saves lives it can be good for business by encouraging greater confidence in their service."

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 and resources on allergies visit www.food.gov.uk/allergen-resources.

Cherwell also delivers a series of food safety course including a CIEH course on serving the allergic and food intolerant customer which costs £25 and can be booked online at http://www.cherwell.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=11862

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