Trade body calls for encouraged dialogue to tackle allergen issues

Relying on prepackaged food labels may pose risks to vulnerable customers.

UKHospitality said that encouraging dialogue between customers and businesses is still the most effective way of tackling allergen-related issues.

The organization, which represents bars, coffee shops, contract catering, hotels, nightclubs, visitor attractions and other leisure venues in the hospitality sector, made the comments in response to the Government’s consultation on allergen regulations for prepacked food advocating the promotion of voluntary labelling and “ask about allergens” stickers.

“Food safety is of paramount importance and it is vital that customers are kept safe and confident when they purchase our food and drink,” UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said.

“The best way to ensure this is to facilitate an environment which encourages an active dialogue and partnership of responsibility between customers and businesses. We need our customers to feel comfortable about asking team members about allergens and confident that the information they receive is accurate.

Nicholls added that as it may be tempting to rely on full labelling to communicate allergen risk to consumers, this option could pose serious risks due to mislabelling.

“Not only might it prevent customers from entering into a dialogue with staff, there are risks regarding mislabelling. It would also not be practical, as it would not circumvent the issue of cross-contamination which would be ever-present,” she explained.

“FSA approved, consistent stickering encouraging customers to ask about allergens alongside continued staff training and industry-led action is the best way to ensure that customers get the most effective and accurate information.”

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