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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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Food businesses to highlight 14 allergens under new EU rules

Restaurants will have to inform customers exactly

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Restaurants will have to declare common allergens Photo BBC news

LONDON - Restaurants and takeaways across European Union will have to inform customers exactly what allergens are present in their food from Saturday with the new food labeling rule coming into force.

Under the new legislation (the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation 1169/2011) food businesses will be required to provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged in catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars.

The new EU regulations require that clear information be proved with regards 14 main allergens. The 14 allergens that need to be highlighted are: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, cereals containing gluten, eggs, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, soya, sesame, sulphur dioxide and sulphites, celery, mustard and lupin (used as a flour in baking).

The new EU regulations will also change the way allergy information appears on labeling for pre-packed foods bought in shops and supermarkets.

The Food Information Regulations 2014 were laid in Parliament on 15 July 2014 and came into force on 15 August 2014.

According to the European Academy of Allergy, food allergies affect more than 17 million people across Europe.

On an average 10 people die annually and some 5,000 people need treatment in hospital for severe allergic reactions each year in the UK.

Chun-Han Chan, food allergy expert at the Food Standards Agency (FSA), said the legislation is a huge step forward for those with allergies: "We have been working very closely with local authorities, food businesses and consumer groups to ensure that these changes can and will be put into place.

"Businesses have the flexibility to provide this information how they wish to do so.. This information can be up front on a menu. If it's not up front, it could be signposted to a special folder or to ask the customer to speak to a member of staff."

The British Hospitality Association recognised that these new regulations have already put a significant burden on hospitality suppliers, the front line service providers and restaurants of all sizes. It is estimated that the cost of implementing these new allergen regulations could be in the region of pound 200 million per year.

Rachel Wilcock from Lancashire Trading Standards Service said: "More than two million people in the UK have allergies to ingredients like eggs, fish and peanuts. These include 2% of adults and 8% of children.

In severe cases, their conditions can be life threatening and can sometimes result in death.

"Food allergens cannot be removed by cooking so these new regulations will provide people with much-needed protection.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU Commissioner in charge of Health and Food Safety, said the new rules will put consumers first but will also be manageable for businesses.

The European food and drink industry highlighted that the sector has been working hard over the past years to comply with the regulation in due time.

"Although some uncertainties still exist as to the interpretation of certain aspects of the new legislation, our members remain committed to providing information in a clear and understandable way to enable consumers to make an informed choice," Mella Frewen, director general of FoodDrinkEurope, said in a statement.

She added that the industry will now closely monitor the implementation of the regulation at national level, particularly in order to avoid barriers to trade in the EU single market.

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