New food labelling regulations that come into force from Friday 12 December will mean that all food products, bought from shops or in cafes and restaurants, will have to display information about its allergen content.
Specific allergens, which can cause serious health problems for some people will need to be highlighted so that consumers can make informed choices about their purchases.
Those allergens include: Cereals containing gluten; crustaceans; eggs; fish; peanuts; soybeans; milk; nuts; celery; mustard; sesame; sulphur dioxide or sulphites (at a level above 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre); lupin; and molluscs.
Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Officers and District Council Environmental Health Officers will be advising businesses about the rules, and are responsible for enforcing the new regulations in partnership with the Food Standards Agency.
Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for the Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Service, said: “Devon and Somerset Trading Standards is working with Environmental Health colleagues to make sure that food manufacturers and caterers across the two counties are aware and prepared for the changes.
“Food allergens can be life threatening and the only way people can manage a food allergy is to avoid the foods that make them ill.
“This is important legislation for consumers and businesses will benefit from more informed and confident customers.”
The Food Standards Agency is warning businesses that serving someone a food that they are allergic to can damage the reputation of their business as well as cause serious harm to their customer.
They say: “Food allergens cannot be removed by cooking. That is why it’s essential to practise good kitchen hygiene, as well as care separation, storage and labelling of ingredients when preparing food.”
The new regulations further strengthen guidance that food manufacturers and caterers are already aware, about the importance of hygiene and safe ingredient preparation.
Paul Marsh, Director at Miles Tea and Coffee in West Somerset said: “Our customers are our business, and as such we already recognise the importance of providing information about our products to help them make informed choices before they purchase. We know how serious food allergens can be to some people’s health and, and as a responsible provider of food, we are pleased to implement the changes.”