The Food Standards Agency has said that restaurants and cafes should take steps to warn customers about possible allergens in food. They suggest that products made with ingredients which could spark an allergic reaction should have them listed on a card, label or menu, and that staff should always check whether a products contains a potential allergen when asked by a customer. guidance says.

At the moment, businesses which sell food prepared or wrapped on their own premises (such as sandwich shops, delicatessens, cafes and bakeries) are not legally required to say whether their products contain potential allergens. Ingredients which can prompt allergic reactions include nuts, milk, soya, mustard, eggs, shellfish, gluten and celery.

Apparently, the FSA has produced booklets and posters to promote the guidance to catering businesses and staff.

This has been welcomed by Coeliac UK. Sarah Sleet (CEO) said: “It is essential that cafes, delis and restaurants are fully aware of these guidelines and have a strategy for dealing with allergens be it from chefs to serving staff to ensure people with coeliac disease can make a safe choice.”

This is still only guidance, not mandatory, but should be welcomed nonetheless as a step forward. Many places, of course, already do their best to provide this information, either on the menu or packaging, or by asking the chef.

You can see the guidance notes here.

FSA Allergy Poster

(This is a smaller version of the FSA poster).