Prue Leith hit the headlines in the Daily Mail this week when she condemned the new allergen regulations for food service coming into force in December as a ‘bureaucratic nightmare’ that will ‘kill innovation and experimentation in the kitchen and cooking what is available daily in the market’.
Well, I know it was the Mail – but that really was a bit rich! And factually inaccurate to boot. So, what’s new?….
So, for anyone who may have been alarmed by the Mail and Ms Leith’s rhetoric, this is the comment that I made on the article:
1. The new regulations do not require the 14 major allergens to be listed on menus, they require any eating out establishment to be able to tell a customer whether those allergens have been used in the food that they are about to eat.
2. This does not prevent the chef changing their menus or dishes but it does require them to note any changes and, if those changes include adding one of those 14 major allergens to the dish, to make sure that the waiting staff know so that they can tell an allergic customer if they ask.
3. The latest figures suggest that 17% of the population across Europe suffer from a food allergy (so eating the food to which they allergic could make them seriously ill) while between 6 and 10% of the population are now thought to suffer from coeliac disease (which means that eating wheat or gluten will make them seriously ill). All of these people need to know about allergens in their food if they are to eat out safely.
Or, if you want the version with all ‘i’s dotted and all ‘t’s crossed, this is the press release I sent out this morning: