Allergen Legislation One Year On: A Mixed Bag

Allergen Legislation One Year On: A Mixed Bag


As we reported in our last post, the past twelve months have seen a number of changes to the way the hospitality industry caters for guests with special dietary requirements. The EU allergen legislation, passed approximately a year ago, put conveyance of vital allergen information to guests under the spotlight.

Although the laws met with some resistance, many other establishments rose to the challenge and embraced the new laws.

Our recent survey revealed that the industry is certainly on the right track - 89% of consumers feel that the availability of free from foods has improved. Additionally, nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents identified restaurants as providing the best choice of dishes compared with pubs, takeaways and fast food outlets.

However, although consumers are able to recognise that there have been changes for the better, our survey highlighted the fact that the industry still has some way to go. We discovered that more than half (58%) of guests feel that while ingredients in dishes are clearly communicated by dining establishments, there is room for improvement. A significant 30% believed the problem lay with staff who were not well trained to discuss the ingredients in dishes.

Additionally, although restaurants were acknowledged for offering the best choice of free from dishes, appealing to the 40% of consumers who stated a lack of options was their biggest concern when eating out, it is clear from our research that takeaways need to improve with 0% of respondents choosing this sort of establishment as having the best range. Fast food outlets could also stand to improve their menus, winning just 2% of the votes.

In fact, operators who specialise in 'grab and go' food might do well to take their lead from M&S Foodhall, identified by 43% of respondents as the best caterer for those with special dietary requirements - a significant lead over any other brand, including Pret a Manger who took 18% of the votes.

Although it's clear many operators are doing what they can to make consumers more confident when eating out, the identification of staff training as an area in need of improvement should encourage the operator to look hard at their sites and how team members are briefed on this important aspect of food service.

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