Catering and the law
What consumers are looking for
From talking with our Members, they are most familiar with the term gluten-free and welcome the assurance that this gives. It’s worth going that extra step so that you label dishes on your menu gluten-free.
Advice for caterers on labelling your menu
The law on gluten-free applies to foods sold pre-packed and those sold in catering establishments. To label gluten-free you need to be sure that the dishes you are serving contain no more than 20 parts per million of gluten. This doesn’t mean that you need to test every meal, but spot testing can be useful to check that the processes you have in place to produce gluten-free meals are effective.
There are several areas that are important to consider for successful gluten-free production, including:
- Knowledge of the law – caterers must know about the laws on gluten-free and general food safety.
- Choosing and using the right ingredients – making sure caterers know the right ingredients to use, and ensuring they are using reputable suppliers. Read about how foods are labelled.
- Storage – ingredients and finished dishes are stored correctly to avoid cross contamination.
- Preparation – cross contamination risk is controlled at all stages of preparation, for example using clean oil for frying, clean water for boiling, clean surfaces.
- Cleaning – clean utensils and surfaces.
- Personal hygiene – hands washed between use of gluten-containing and gluten-free ingredients.
- Communication – there must be a system in place to ensure that customers are provided with correct information.
- Training – training must be provided for all staff on all aspects of preparation and serving of gluten-free food.
- Quality assurance – caterers must ensure that processes, documentation and training are kept up to date and carry out regular internal checks.
- Complaints – customer complaints must be logged and investigated with reference to procedures in place.
Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC)
The European Commission has published the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 which has been adopted into UK law as the Food Information Regulations, commonly known as FIR. The regulation simplifies European food labelling by combining rules on general food and nutrition labelling into a single regulation.
For caterers, the regulation makes it necessary for caterers to provide allergen information about the food they are serving. This will have a bearing on the way you label your menus and provide information to your customers. The regulations introduce a new requirement to provide information on allergenic ingredients. Caterers can provide the information in written or oral formats.
If you choose to provide the information orally, you will need to ensure that there is a written notice, menu, ticket or label that is clearly visible, at the point that the customer chooses their food, to indicate that allergen information is available from a member of staff. It is recommended that you have a system in place to ensure that when allergen information is provided orally to consumers, it is supported by that information being available to staff and others in a recorded form (in writing for example) to provide consistency, accuracy and verifiable safety procedures.
You can find a useful booklet on the Food Standards Agency website ‘Allergen information for loose foods: Advice on the new Food Information Regulations for small and medium food businesses’. Technical guidance is also available on the Food Standards Agency website.
We also have information for our Members on the changes, including a link to a new leaflet published by the Food Standards Agency.
How we can help you
Making sure you can comply with the law is key for both your business and your customers with coeliac disease, and we can help you do this.