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Allergens in Restaurant Food: Were You Warned?

Dining out? If you are an allergy sufferer, an evening meal could turn into an unpleasant experience with severe consequences on your health if you are not adequately warned of allergens.

Earlier this year, over 100 leading chefs and restaurateurs made known the bad taste in their mouths for new regulations in place that require them to list specific allergens on their menus.

The Food Standards Agency implemented the restrictions on anyplace that sells pre-prepared and non-packaged food. Substances listed in the EU’s ‘top 14 allergens’ must be declared on menus and made clear to consumers, or failure to comply will result in fines of up to £5,000.

The intention of the new regulations mean that a consumer may dine with the peace of mind that their food does not contain allergens, as any dishes that would pose as a health risk should be labelled on the menu.

This has been met with umbrage from many leading chefs due to extra cost and restriction on their spontaneity and creativity. A letter written by chefs and restaurateurs including Prue Leith, Albert Roux, Mark Hix and Thomasina Miers, stated:

“As chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and caterers, we are concerned about the bureaucratic nightmare the recent EU allergen regulations have imposed on our businesses. And it is not just the cost. They will reduce the spontaneity, creativity and innovation restaurants and others in the industry have enjoyed up until now. We need real change in the EU as the last thing small, independent businesses like restaurants and cafes need is to be hampered with further regulations and an even longer rulebook.”

Approaching the subject from the perspective of Personal Injury Lawyers, it is a restaurant’s responsibility to ensure that their patrons are not put in harm’s way, by ensuring the risk of an allergic reaction is reduced by adequate warnings and labelling of allergens.

It is impossible for a chef to know the dietary requirements of every customer they prepare food for, and so as a consumer with restrictions on the food you can eat due to allergies, it is important that you are extra cautious when enquiring about which allergens may be in your food before ordering. The new legislation, EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No. 1169/2011, which came into effect on 13th December is designed with the protection of those with allergies, and for those unsure, the FSA’s guide ‘Advice on Food Allergen Labelling’ is a good place to start.

If you have been affected by an allergic reaction to restaurant food as a result of insufficiently labelled allergens, call Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online to start your claim.

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