As some of you may have seen, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) recently launched a campaign to highlight the importance of food businesses providing allergen information to their customers. There are 14 allergens that must be declared if used as an ingredient in either prepacked foods or food sold loose. One of these allergens is wheat. The cereal itself is considered the allergen and so must be highlighted e.g. wheat, oats, rye etc. Gluten may be placed in brackets after the name of the cereal.
This is not just a recommendation – it is a legal requirement that businesses ensure their customers are aware if one of 14 allergens are in the food they serve. For all our Members, the important one is wheat and it is something we in the Society watch closely on your behalf.
As part of the campaign launch, the FSAI held a breakfast briefing in their offices to discuss the challenges and to share the results of a survey they conducted into compliance rates. We work closely with the FSAI on this and other matters, so we were pleased to be invited to attend.
The results were an eye-opener for everyone, with many businesses failing to do what is required of them. Even the simplest requirement to have written information easily and readily available was not happening in a number of places. Other more specific regulations were also not being followed, such as when they state “cereals containing gluten” they were not specifying the type of cereal, or they specified “gluten” only and not “wheat” for example. Full details can be found here. However, the large number of restaurant owners that attended event showed that there is a willingness to do more.
The FSAI have asked for our assistance in helping to improve compliance, so if you are eating out and find that the business does not appear to be complying, they would appreciate if you could let them know at this address: www.fsai.ie/makeitbetter. Their team will then follow-up and see what actions are required.