With less than a week to go before the introduction of Natasha’s Law on October 1st, 2021, allergens are again being highlighted across the hospitality industry and the wider news. An estimated 1-2% of adults and 5-8% of children suffer from food allergies in the UK. Hospital admissions due to allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock are also on the rise, so it’s critical that hospitality providers are actively managing allergens within their business – protecting their customers, but also their own reputations.
Preparing for Natasha’s Law
The new law affects the requirements for food labelling on pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS) food. It requires businesses to provide a full list of ingredients in order of quantity, with any of the 14 key allergens emphasised (such as in bold, italics or a different colour), on the packaging of food prepared on the premises for same-day sale. All businesses, small or large, who serve PPDS food need to prepare early, as meeting the regulations will require conversations and collaboration with suppliers, managing and updating ingredients and allergens within the system, updates on compliance and supply checks, preparation for labelling, and education across all levels of the business – these aren’t changes that you can make overnight.
This useful tool can help businesses determine whether the food they are selling is PPDS, and therefore subject to the new regulations: https://www.food.gov.uk/allergen-ingredients-food-labelling-decision-tool
Active Allergen Awareness
Whether or not the new law applies to the food you serve, now is a good opportunity to review and educate staff on the importance of effective allergen management across all areas of your business, from those working front of house, to staff members working in food preparation.
Allergen law has long been in effect for food that is non-prepacked and loose, for instance items ordered from a menu in a restaurant. Systems and processes should be well established within any hospitality locations to meet these regulations. However, with all the complications from the pandemic, such as staff changes, menu changes and ordering system updates it would be helpful for your team to refresh their knowledge of allergen regulations and the processes within your organisation.
Comprehensive guidance on best practice for handling allergens and providing allergen information can be found here: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/allergen-guidance-for-food-businesses
Role of technology
There’s always a lot going on for hospitality businesses, but the industry is facing more challenges in today’s environment, so the role of technology providers is to help improve and simplify allergen management and compliance with regulations where possible. Lolly technology can help boost allergen awareness within your company, whilst simplifying the management of this legal requirement.
Lolly customers already have the ability to easily upload and update allergen and nutritional information into the PoS back-office system. These allergen details can be accessed by customers and staff via clear displays on self-serve units and the app, or by pulling up a digital allergen menu on the PoS system, including on-the-go with the LollyMove.
To further enhance the Lolly app we are developing an in-app allergen alarm, whereby customers using the app can list their allergens in their personal profile. This would then trigger an alarm in the PoS system and app if the customer goes to purchase a product which is listed as containing any of their allergens. Aimed at improving customer safety, this will also help to support Lolly clients in safeguarding their allergen management strategy – and providing the highest levels of support for their customers when it comes to managing their allergen requirements.
With allergies growing in the UK, as well as greater numbers of people following certain diets because of intolerances, allergen management and awareness needs to be an ongoing, active, part of hospitality leadership. Technology can help support and simplify the management, tracking and communication of allergens to ensure the safety of consumers, but in-person awareness and education is still key.
For more details on the new requirements and resources to help you prepare for the changes, visit: https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/introduction-to-allergen-labelling-changes-ppds