From 13 December, food to go retailers will be required by law to tell customers if any of the 14 main allergen ingredients appear in the food they sell.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) predicts that on average 10 people die each year and approximately 5,000 people are hospitalised due to allergic reactions. It hopes that by employing the new labelling format, people will become more aware and these numbers may be greatly reduced.
The legislation applies to all food suppliers and restaurants. For c-store retailers it applies to food to go, homemade produce and in-store cafes.
The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has predicted that implementing this could cost the entire food sector an extra £200m a year.
The food allergens to look out for are celery, gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, lupin, milk, soya, molluscs, mustard, nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds and sulphur dioxide.
Chris Grimes, Brockley Village shop and café retailer said: “The new labelling requirements are an absolute nightmare for a small store like us trying to have a point of difference by offering good quality freshly-made dishes from our in-store café.
“Our chef has had to spend hours going through all her recipes in order to be compliant. It would be far easier to just get it all out of a packet.”
However, research by the FSA and Allergy UK shows that almost 70% of people with allergies avoid eating out due to fear that the information they are given isn’t reliable. Their research also showed that 68% said they would be more likely to eat out once the new legislation came into force.
Further information can be found at www.food.gov.uk/allergen-resources