A November 2019 survey by software firm, Fourth, has found that 68% of employees within the hospitality sector need more information about allergens and 23% of them do not feel able to advise customers about the allergens that may be present in food. Are your employees or contracted caterers any more au fait with allergen regulations?
Sitting alongside the latest figures is another research survey, this time by CGA Business Confidence, which has identified big holes in employees’ allergen training. When a customer specifically asks about allergens in their food, 58% of staff are ‘worried’ about answering the questions posed. Alarmingly, only 40% could name the top 14 allergens that the Food Safety Agency says must strictly controlled.
Although there have been some very high-profile cases, surrounding tragic cases where allergy sufferers have been served food containing an allergen, there are probably many more near misses that go under the radar. Fourth’s CEO, Ben Hood, has said “action is critical.” Yet, employees in 37% of cases only get allergen training on a monthly basis and for a further 14% it is bi-monthly.
This is at a time when the number of children admitted to hospital with severe allergic reactions is continually on the rise. In 2018-19, 1746 children suffered anaphylactic shock. Back in 2013-14, it was only 1015. In the course of five years, the figure for adults has risen from 4107 to 5497. Whilst this does include problems after bee and wasp stings, the underlying pattern suggests that changes within our diets, air pollution and other factors, are making us more susceptible to allergies.
Natasha’s Law, which will make it a legal requirement to list allergens contained with pre-packaged food, will come into force in 2021. Another piece of legislation – Owen’s Law – may make it a requirement for all menus to list allergens present in dishes served.
Any allergen-related incident could decimate a golf club and potentially also have ramifications for those individuals that did not provide training or ensure a duty of care over diners and customers. If you recognise that your allergen controls could be lax, but do not know where to start with this aspect of the law and health and safety, call our Gauntlet team on 0113 244 8686 for help.