Food allergies can kill
Talk to your staff about the risks and train them in allergy awareness – this includes your staff handling food and also you counter staff.
- Train all your staff (food handlers, service staff and staff taking orders by phone) in allergy awareness
- Make sure that all staff understand that they should never guess whether or not an allergen is present in a food. They should ask someone who knows. Always be honest with the customer. If you don’t know, ask someone who does.
- Ensure kitchen staff inform the service staff of any last minute recipe changes
Communicating with customers
Let your customers with allergies know that you are allergy-aware and give advice on which foods to avoid.Always reflect the presence of allergens on your signs or tickets.
Where possible, design your menu to ensure names and descriptions of dishes reflect potential allergenic ingredients, for example, “strawberry mousse with almond shortbread” or “satay sauce made with peanuts”.
What to do in the event of an emergency
Call the emergency services (999) immediately if you suspect a customer is having an allergic reaction. Send someone to meet the ambulance crew and remain with the customer in the meantime.
- Never guess ingredients in a food – always check!
- This information may be subject to change and you may wish to check with Enforcement officer or the Food Standards Scotland website on: www.foodstandards.gov.scot to obtain further updates.
6.1 Requirement for non-prepacked and prepacked for direct sale foods
Information on allergenic ingredients must be:
- written up front (for example on a menu or menu board) without the customer having to ask for information
- sign-posted to where written information can be found or obtained
- sign-posted to say that oral information can be obtained from a member of staff
- if information on allergenic ingredients is provided orally, this must be consistent and verifiable (i.e. a business must have processes in place to capture information from recipes or ingredients lists from products bought in, and make this available to staff)
This section is relevant for businesses that have direct interaction with their customers, such as restaurants, sandwich shops and bakers.
It is important that customers with food allergies or intolerances are able to make informed choices when choosing products. All staff serving customers should be made aware of the potential risks to customers' health if they advise them incorrectly. A process must be in place to ensure that allergen information can be easily obtained and is accurate and consistent.
Customers are strongly advised to speak to staff regarding their allergy requirements. If a member of staff is unsure of the answer to a customer's question, they must ask somebody who knows.
You might find it useful to show these animations to the food businesses in your area. Or you could download this booklet or poster. The booklet is aimed at anyone who works in a café or restaurant selling unpackaged foods. The poster is a visual tool aimed at people who work in these businesses but do not have English as a first language, or those who have language difficulties.
6.2 'Gluten-free' or 'very low gluten' claims
About 1% of people in the UK are intolerant to gluten – this condition is also known as coeliac disease. People with coeliac disease need to avoid foods that contain gluten to prevent potentially serious health effects. This means labelling claims about gluten in foods are very important. Foods that contain gluten include wheat, rye and barley.
European legislation has set levels of gluten for foods that claim to be either 'gluten-free' or 'very low gluten'. These levels are:
- 'gluten-free' – 20 mg/kg of gluten.
- 'very low gluten' – 100 mg/kg of gluten. However, only foods with cereal ingredients that have been specially processed to remove the gluten may make a 'very low gluten' claim.
These regulations apply to all foods – pre-packed or sold loose, such as in health food stores or in catering establishments.
Caterers can only use the phrase ‘gluten-free’ if they can demonstrate that, when tested, their product is 20 parts or less of gluten per million. They will also be required to demonstrate that any products claiming to be 'very low gluten' also comply to the legislation.
Caterers producing foods with no deliberate gluten containing ingredients, but due to the high risk of gluten cross-contamination, will be unable to label foods as ‘gluten-free’ or ‘very low gluten’.