Peter Ducker FIH asks what could happen to UK businesses that do not comply with the new food allergen regulation

Now that the parties are over, businesses that haven't undertaken steps to comply with the new allergen regulation must take action!
The party’s over: UK businesses that haven’t undertaken steps to comply with the new allergen regulation must take action! Our FIR Toolbox can help.

By the time you read this, the 13 December 2014 deadline to comply with the new EU regulations regarding allergen labelling and customer information will have been and gone.

According to a Caternet survey, only one third of hospitality operators said that they were 100% ready for the new legislation, which applies to any business that provides food and beverages to the public.

In busy working environments, it is easy to understand how plans to prepare for the new regulations could get sidelined or postponed, especially since the deadline fell in the busy run-up to Christmas. According to the same survey, one in five companies has yet to make any preparations for the new law, which requires operators to keep a systematic record of the allergens present in their dishes and communicate this information to customers.

So what could happen to those businesses that are not fully compliant? The hospitality team at law firm Pitmans LLP says: “The Regulation does not supply any indications about a sanction regime, which means that such regimes are not harmonized at a European level. Initially, we believe breaches will result in Improvement Notices and First Tier Tribunals in the case of appeals, but there is the possibility of criminal sanctions as non-compliance may endanger consumers. Operators should therefore seek advice as early as possible.”

It cannot be a coincidence that the Sentencing Council has chosen now to launch a consultation on its proposed guidelines for judges and magistrates to use when sentencing people for food safety, hygiene offences and corporate manslaughter.

If a customer dies from an allergic reaction while eating in a hotel that has failed to comply with the new Regulation, for example, then we could in theory see that criminal prosecutions under the Corporate Manslaughter Act and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 may apply. Under this legislation, it is the organisation which is liable rather than any individual members of staff.  A court would look at the systems and practices implemented across the organisation in assessing whether a gross breach has occurred, which could in theory include a breach of the Regulation.

As an industry getting to grips with the new regime, it seems we will have to rely on the goodwill and support of Environmental Health Officers and Trading Standards Officers.  However, the more a business prepares for and documents their compliance, the greater the chance that problems will be avoided.

At the Institute of Hospitality, we believe that compliance is easier than it appears. Even if you  are one of those businesses that have taken little or no action so far, we have created a 1-2-3 step approach to compliance.  Members can follow our three easy-to-understand steps when they access our online FIR Toolbox.  The Toolbox also includes a selection of resources freely available to non-members.

An estimated 21 million adults in the UK suffer from a food allergy so, although we are now in an adjustment period as hospitality businesses get acclimatised to the new Food Information Regulations (FIR), astute organisations will see the opportunities that arise from helping customers make the right choices for their needs. These businesses can become the hospitality businesses of choice for consumers with allergies – and the friends, family and co-workers who might accompany them for a meal – by complying with FIR and offering a broader range of allergen-free foods to meet customers’ needs.

The Institute of Hospitality’s FIR Toolbox is available at: www.instituteofhospitality.org/publications/fir_toolbox

Ding Dong! A New Year and a NEW BLOG

If you study or work in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sector, you’ve probably been following the Institute’s popular EMS Blog, which offered industry news, top tips for conducting hospitality research and profiles of industry professionals who are succeeding in – and loving! – their hospitality careers.

front desk bell

For technical reasons, the Institute has revamped the EMS Blog by moving it to a WordPress platform and, because the content was popular with business practitioners as well as the intended audience of academics and students, it’s posts are now aimed at anyone working in, teaching or studying hospitality.

Please do bookmark this page, send it to hospitality peers, friend and colleagues. Let us know what you think using the contact form below and, if there is a topic you’d like to see covered, let us know that, too!

We hope you the ‘new look’ Institute of Hospitality Blog!

Sheffield Hallam’s Christoph Schlegel is Worthy Winner of Institute Prize

Image

At the recent Sheffield Business School prize-giving ceremony, Jenny Cockill MIH, Principal Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University awarded Christoph Schlegel who graduated from the MSc International Hospitality and Tourism Management.

The Institute of Hospitality sponsors a prize which is awarded to the student with the best overall result. Christoph received a framed certificate, book token and complimentary membership of the Institute of Hospitality for one year.

A FREE Course: Preparing for Uni

Students_in_Library

This new, free MOOC (massive open online course) can help you prepare for coursework at university in the UK. Learn about the skills needed for critical thinking including the analysis and use of data. Work on developing these university-level skills before you arrive.

Alternatively, if you have struggled with university coursework, this MOOC can help you get up to speed with your classmates and meet the expectations of your lecturers and tutors.

Hear about the areas that are most challenging for students and discover some top tips for coping with the university learning environment. Weekly exercises help you become self-critical and analyse your progress along with your peers. Obtain advice and support from classmates through discussions.

Find out more and watch an informative video. Join this FREE course at: https://www.futurelearn.com/register?course=preparing-for-uni