In a nutshell


A new EU directive on food allergen labelling is coming into force on 13 December.

What the new law says

Currently, pre-packaged foods and drinks have to indicate whether they contain any of the following 14 key allergens: cereals with gluten (such as wheat, rye, barley, oats), crustaceans, molluscs, eggs, fish, nuts, soybeans, peanuts, milk, celery, mustard, sesame, lupin and sulphur dioxide (also written as SO2) at levels above 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre). You can usually find this on the ingredients list of packaging labels. From 13 December, under the new Food Information for Consumers Regulation, this will also apply to loose foods (i.e. food that is bought without packaging) and drinks – so pubs, bars and restaurants will need to indicate orally or in writing, whether their food and drink contains any of the above allergens.

How it affects you

The new directive also applies to drink, as many beers and lagers contain wheat (which falls under the category of ‘cereals containing gluten’). Additionally, many brewers use fish-gelatin derived Isinglass as a fining agent in beer and wine. So publicans need to specify exactly which drinks contain allergens and which allergens these may be.

What to do next

The law comes into effect in December but there’s no reason not to get a headstart. 

  1. Start with training your staff – as the first port of call for any potentially allergic customers, they should be thoroughly informed about what allergens your meals and drinks may contain.
  2. Highlight any potential dishes in writing – this can be on your menu or on a back-of-house document that staff can refer to. Suppliers should be able to tell you what ingredients have been used. You don’t have to change your food offering (unless you wish to cater for those with dietary restrictions) but you do have to be transparent about what goes into it.
  3. If you plan to offer meals that are allergen-free, make sure your kitchen is thoroughly organised and labelled so there are no potential sources for cross-contamination.