What is the purpose of this legislation?
The Food Information Regulations (FIR) were put in force in response to the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) and are intended to ensure that allergen information is provided to customers in a clear and consistent way on both prepacked and non-prepacked food, therefore making it easier for consumers to make informed and safer choices when buying food or eating out.
The 14 major allergens which need to be mentioned are as follows:
- cereals containing gluten
- tree nuts
- sesame seeds
- sulphur dioxide & sulphites (when more than 10 ppm)
Who is responsible for compliance and what needs to be done?
Allergens must be declared if you provide either prepacked or non-prepacked food or drink. Making records of allergen information and clear communication with staff, customers and suppliers will help to ensure that customers with food allergies or food intolerances are given accurate information.
If you are a food business selling non-prepacked food or selling food in a café, restaurant or takeaway:
- You must provide information on the 14 allergens specified in the FIR if used as an ingredient in the food you are providing or selling.
- This information can be on either the menu, an advisory sheet or provided orally.
- If the information is not provided up front then customers will need to be signposted to where it can be obtained, for example, on the company’s website.
- Provide training for employees so that they are aware of your policies and procedures when asked to provide allergen information
- The customer has a responsibility to tell you about their allergies or food intolerances.
Food businesses manufacturing prepacked food must:
- check the ingredients list of branded products;
- avoid contamination in food assembly by having separate storage and handling areas for allergenic ingredients;
- ensure that there is a rigorous cleaning of equipment where allergens are used;
- clearly label prepacked food with allergen information by, for example, listing them in bold, in contrasting colours and/or by underlining them;
- Allergen advice statements can also be used on the label, for example, ‘for allergens, see ingredients in bold’.
- If there remains a risk of allergen cross contamination the label should include a statement, for example, ‘may contain nuts’.
- provide training for employees so that they are aware of your policies and procedures when asked to provide allergen information.