FSAI: Food businesses ‘falling short on allergen responsibilities’

A new public campaign by the FSAI aims to highlight the importance of allergen information
A new public campaign by the FSAI aims to highlight the importance of allergen information

A new nationwide campaign by the Food Safety Authority aims to remind food retailers in all sectors that they are legally obliged to provide detailed allergen information on the food products they sell. A survey by the Authority has revealed that not enough is being done in this area, and many businesses are non-compliant.

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2 October 2018 | 0

More needs to be done to protect consumer health in the areas of food allergens, the Food Safety Authority has said. The body, tasked with ensuring any food manufactured, packaged or sold in Ireland complies with safety and hygiene standards, says that while there is increased evidence of awareness and compliance in this area, consumer health is still at risk in some areas.

According to a survey carried out by Red C on behalf of the FSAI*, two out of five adults are unaware that food businesses are obliged to provide consumers with “accurate written information” in relation to food they are serving or selling, whether it is pre-packed or not. The Authority referrred to 14 specified allergens in non-prepacked foods. One in five adults, conversely, believe food businesses are not doing enough in this area.

The survey marks the start of a national information campaign by the FSAI to re-enforce and remind food businesses of their legal obligations.

Dr Pamela Byrne, chief executive, FSAI said food businesses that are not compliant are breaking the law, and it is one of the reasons closure orders were served on seven businesses over the past year. “Environmental health officers will continue to take action where they find non-compliance with the law during their inspections,” Dr. Byrne said. “Whether it is a café, hotel, pub, restaurant, takeaway, deli, food van or market stall, we are urging food retailers to provide accurate written allergen information for your customers, as required by law.”

The results of the research also reveal:

  • Four out of five people (88%) agree that it is good that food businesses are legally required to provide written information on food allergens
  • Restaurants (77%), cafés (71%), and hotels (69%) perform relatively strongly, with most people having seen written allergen information in these food businesses
  • Over two out of three people say they have not seen written allergen information displayed at food stalls at markets (74%), child care facilities (66%), staff canteens (64%), farmers/food markets (74%) and food vans/ice cream vans (82%)
  • Four out of five people say it is more common to see allergen information than five years ago, approximately three out of 10 find the allergen information that they have seen as difficult to understand

Last year, the FSAI’s advice line fielded 64 consumer complaints regarding allergen information.

To stress the gravity of the need for allergen information to be displayed and to raise further awareness of the legal requirement, the FSAI’s national information campaign starts today across print, online and broadcast media. With strong messages it highlights the potential fatal consequences that missing or inaccurate allergen information can have on an individual’s health.

For more information on how to comply with the legal requirements, food businesses can visit www.fsai.ie/allergens. The FSAI will host a free Breakfast Bite event on food allergen labelling from 8am to 9:20am on Tuesday, 9 October at its offices, The Exchange, George’s Dock, IFSC, Dublin 1.  Booking is required and further information is available at www.fsai.ie/events.

*(Source: Nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults undertaken 6 – 10 September)

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