The Importance of Allergen Menu Compliance
Allergens used as ingredients in food must legally be declared by Food business operators (FBOs). Menu compliance can be achieved by identifying allergens in dishes and clearly communicating this information to customers and training employees accordingly.
Let’s delve into the key aspects of allergen menu compliance and what it means for both customers and food business operators.
The 14 major Allergens:
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), recognises 14 major food allergens that by law, must be accurately identified and communicated in written format for both prepacked and non-prepacked foods.
The 14 major allergens that must be declared by law:
- Cereals containing gluten – wheat (such as spelt and khorasan wheat), rye, barley, oats. Note: The cereal name, e.g., ‘wheat’, must be declared and highlighted.
- Crustaceans, e.g., crabs, prawns, lobsters
- Nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macademia/Queensland nut). Note: The name of the nut, e.g., ‘almond’, must be declared and highlighted.
- Sesame seeds
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (at concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/L in terms of total sulphur dioxide) – used as a preservative.
- Molluscs e.g., mussels, oysters, squid, snails
Food Allergen Management
Food allergens should be an integral part of the food safety management system and food businesses must be aware of the food allergens they handle and ensure that they can track their use in various products. Businesses producing and preparing food should adopt practices to ensure proper allergen management, communication and to minimise cross-contamination. Allergen awareness training is important to prevent mishandling and reduce the risk of cross contamination of allergenic ingredients. To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, food businesses should maintain separate preparation areas and use separate utensils for allergenic ingredients.
How to ensure allergen menu compliance:
FBOs must provide allergen information at the point of presentation, sale, or supply. The information must be:
- provided in English and in written form.
- provided in handwritten or printed form.
- available to the customer in plain sight before the sale or supply of food. The customer should not have to ask for the allergen information.
- accurate and relate directly to the specific food.
- Written food allergen information can be placed alongside each written menu item or alternatively a separate allergen list can be provided in one or several locations on the premises.
- The word ‘contains’ must be used in the allergen information provided followed by the specific allergen e.g., ‘contains wheat, milk, and eggs.
- The information must be clearly signposted so that it is easily accessible. A food business may choose to display their allergen information using an electronic format or QR code.
It is important that a FBO includes allergen information for all components including beverages such as wine, draught beer, ciders, cocktails, juices, and smoothies and where menu items such as ‘specials’ are advertised e.g., on chalkboards, the food allergen information must be updated each time a food item changes.
- 14 major food allergens must be declared.
- The cereal name containing gluten e.g., ‘wheat’ must be declared not ‘gluten’
- The name of the nut, e.g., hazelnut, must be declared not ‘nut’.
- Communication is essential.
- Employee awareness and training is integral to allergen compliance.
- Allergen information shall be provided in plain sight to the customer.
- Contact us to see how we can assist with ensuring you are compliant.