In what has been a landmark legal trial, the jailing of Mohammed Zaman for manslaughter has set a precedent for the foodservice industry. Based on supplier and customer insight from across the industry, Beacon, Britain’s leading purchasing company, has identified food allergen labelling as one of the biggest challenges facing the sector this year.
A recent survey by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Allergy UK revealed that 69% of diners with allergies have experienced a lack of understanding among restaurant staff regarding the severity of an allergy or intolerance. Furthermore, 68% said that front-of-house staff had a lack of knowledge of what was on the menu or in the food. With these figures in mind, it’s clear that there is still room for foodservice operators to be doing more to cater for customers with allergies or intolerances.
Emma Warrington, Senior Food Buyer at Beacon, commented:
In our most recent edition of Beckon, Beacon’s industry publication, experts from across the foodservice industry including Brakes, Coupe de Pates (formerly Delice de France), Premier Foods and BEST WESTERN, all identified food allergen labelling as one of the biggest challenges facing the industry this year. Food allergens are simply something that cannot be ignored, so operators need to look at ways of working that assist them in meeting the demand of those with allergies or intolerances.
To enable operators to ensure they are effectively communicating the allergens present, Beacon has compiled its advice for adding allergen-free products to the menu:
Education is key
The most important thing for businesses is to ensure that all staff throughout the company are educated and able to clearly communicate any allergens present on the menu. Work closely with your chef and all kitchen staff to establish the base ingredients in each dish on the menu and ensure that this information is communicated throughout the business. Many suppliers now offer tools and advice to help educate businesses, so business owners should consult their suppliers for guidance.
Start with the favourites
Research from a leading Beacon supplier, McCain, shows that chips are often critical to a consumers’ meal experience, especially in hotels. Providing good quality, gluten free chips will go a long way in providing optimum customer satisfaction and driving repeat visits. McCain recently launched its range of gluten free chips, which have been proving hugely popular in the industry.
Consider all aspects of the business
It’s vital to remember that food-labelling regulations are not restricted to items at the dinner table. Operators must consider absolutely any aspect of the business where food or drink is served, which means reviewing drinks, bar and room service menus. Again, remember that your suppliers should assist you with this – so always ask for their advice.
When it comes to food allergens there is no room for ambiguity or grey areas. If there is any uncertainty, businesses are advised to check with their local health team and/or trading standards.