EU Allergen Laws- Is the hospitality industry doing enough?

EU Allergen Laws- Is the hospitality industry doing enough?

EU Allergen Laws- Is the hospitality industry doing enough?

According to a new survey, more than a third of guests find restaurant allergen information 'confusing', indicating the industry still has a way to go when catering to special dietary requirements.

The survey of 100 people was conducted by the Food Allergy Training Consultancy and marks the one year anniversary of the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation coming into force. This regulation was brought in to support guests with dietary requirements, requiring all restaurants to ensure they are able to supply a comprehensive list of ingredients for any dish.

Additionally, 14 specified allergens, including prime offenders such as gluten and nuts, were identified to restaurant owners with the instruction that they must be marked clearly on menus or have their presence communicated to guests by a member of staff.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned research brings into question whether restaurants are doing enough. The survey revealed that although the number of people with special dietary requirements has risen by 54% in the past 12 months, only 10% of respondents were able to claim they felt more confident when dining out since the EU regulations were passed. In fact, 35% of those surveyed even claimed to have spotted mistakes in the allergen information restaurants provided.

Caroline Benjamin, founder of the Food Allergy Training Consultancy, commented that the results were unsurprising. Her statement, reported by, highlighted that "currently food businesses are not paying attention to detail when managing the food allergy customer" and that "training is of a bare minimum or is being overlooked."

The EU regulations certainly haven't proved universally popular in the kitchens - back in March a letter deriding the law as a "bureaucratic nightmare" and an obstruction to "spontaneity, creativity and innovation" was signed by over 100 chefs. However, it is also fair to say that many restaurants have been recognised for their dietary requirements efforts. A recent survey conducted by us, here at HospitalityGEM, revealed that nearly three-quarters of diners feel that restaurants do provide the best choice of 'free-from' dishes compared to pubs or fast-food outlets.

With a growing percentage of the population believing they have issues with dairy and wheat as well as evidence from Coeliac UK suggesting the industry misses out on £100m each year as a result of failing to cater for gluten intolerance alone, savvy business owners may see financial benefits from catering to the substantial 'free-from' crowd in the future.

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