On 13 December 2014 new food regulations relating to allergen information come into force across Europe. The regulations affect anyone who works in any form of food preparation and food service. The changes to food regulations affect data management as catering companies will need to improve their data management practices to ensure that serving staff have the correct information to provide to customers.
The EU identifies 14 main food allergens (Table 1). From 13 December 2014, information about the presence of the 14 allergens in both packaged and unpackaged food must be made available to customers.
Table 1: Food Allergens
In restaurants this will mean that serving staff must have access to information about the ingredients used in the dishes served to customers. If a customer asks if an allergen has been used in a recipe, the restaurant staff must be able to provide the information orally, and in writing if requested. It is not acceptable for staff to say that they do not know if the food contains allergens or to state that ‘all foods served may include allergens’. Restaurants will need to provide signs to explain to customers how to obtain information about the use of allergens in the food available.
For packaged food, allergens must be indicated and highlighted in the list of ingredients. The allergens may be indicated using italic text, underlined text or highlighted text. Most food manufacturers have been changing their processes to adapt to these regulations over recent months. The main impact of the regulations will therefore be on cafés, restaurants, bars and fast-food outlets.
Caterers will need to be aware of allergens used in the food products they buy-in, as well as how they use allergens in their food preparation. This will require both kitchen staff and serving staff, who may often be temporary staff, to have accurate information to share with customers.
In recent years, scandals in food manufacturing have become headline news due to a lack of clear and accurate data management in the food supply chain. Food Information Regulations seek to ensure accurate information is available for consumers to make informed choices about the wrapped and unwrapped food they wish to purchase.
Improving the accuracy of data included on food labelling and ensuring that all staff have accurate information on the use of allergens in food preparation are essential to improve information management in the catering industry. This may include, for example, increasing the information provided to customers on menus, signage or chalk boards.
Responding to changes in Food Information Regulations therefore requires changes to business processes to capture data about the use of ingredients and processes to communicate the information accurately to staff and customers. Processes also need to be in place to ensure that the information is updated when recipes change or when ingredients are sourced from different suppliers.
More information on the Food Information Regulations 2014 can be found here:
Further Reading: the relationship between information and business processes is discussed in Chapter 2.
Please use the following to reference this blog post in your own work:
Cox, S. A., (2014), ‘How Changes to Food Regulations Affect Data Management’, 12 September 2014, http://www.managinginformation.org/changes-to-food-regulations-affect-data-management/, [Date accessed: dd:mm:yy]