A survey conducted by Unilever Food Solutions found that around 44% of all food service companies in the UK were not aware of new food regulations regarding allergens, that came into effect on December 13.
Bridget Holmstrom, owner of B H Financial Tuition and former financial advisor of some of the world’s top hotels, is urging businesses to plan carefully for the change and budget for additional staff training.
She said: “By December 13 food service operators were expected to provide detailed allergen information on menus, labels or ingredient lists. It is no longer acceptable for staff to be uninformed.
“The allergens that must be mentioned are gluten, eggs, peanuts, sulphites and celery.
“It worries me that businesses in the region were not prepared for this and may be imposed with some hefty fines if they don’t comply.”
Bridget advises a list of points that businesses should adhere to avoid the uncapped fines.
She added: “Companies should check the ingredients list of anything they buy in, check the complete recipes of all products, make sure foods are all stored separately in closed containers and train staff to check with the kitchen every time a customer asks about a specific ingredient.
“It can be an extra financial pull on a business to spare staff time for training and checking specific food orders/packaging but is worth paying attention to.
“So many businesses can struggle and even go bankrupt after a government fine and it’s already estimated that this regulation will cost the industry around £200m.”
Of all the businesses surveyed, one third was unready for the change, whilst 85% felt they needed more help and guidance.
Bridget continued: “If businesses are feeling worried, there’s plenty of information available and the Food Standards Agency has produced some interactive training aids.
“B H Financial Tuition can also inform businesses further and even incorporate staff time and training for the regulation into your finances.
“It’s much safer for SME’s to spend money now addressing the issue, rather than waiting until they’re caught out.”