Brand new support for food allergen management

Mike Haslin, Chief Executive Officer at TUCO, The University Caterers Organisation, discusses allergen management, following the launch of the independent Code of Practice for Food Allergen Management

We all understand the gravity of managing allergens within catering. To support allergen management good-practice and to help caterers work towards best-in-class allergen processes, we have launched our own TUCO Code of Practice for Food Allergen Management.

Soon to be accredited, the document is a brand-new, simple guide to help manage food allergen awareness. It can help guide caterers to comply with current legislation concerning food allergens and acts as additional due diligence evidence to support the management of food safety on site. Designed to review the processes currently in place, it can lead to opportunities for consultative input and recommendations for improvement.

It documents the importance of updating ingredient allergen data, food allergen labelling, and training staff on emergency procedures for dealing with anaphylaxis.

TUCO has invested in this area, because we want to help all caterers illustrate their commitment to the safe management of food allergens for everyone. We believe this will enhance customer experience and help alleviate parental concerns regarding food allergens.

TUCO Code of Practice for Food Allergen Management standards for compliance, at a glance:

1. Food allergen policy

Have a written Food Allergen Policy stating commitment to reducing the risk to members of your community and visitors regarding the provision of food and the consumption of allergens in food that could lead to an allergic reaction.

Key actions include: The Food Allergen Policy is made readily available for customers and staff to access and read; The Food Allergen Policy is reviewed annually.

2. Supply & traceability

Ensure traceability of raw ingredients using robust supply chain controls.

Key actions include: TUCO-approved suppliers are used; there is a procedure in place whereby the supplier notifies of any changes to the ingredients of produce supplied.

3. Food allergen – Management from delivery to service

In accordance with regulation (EC) 852/2004 which is implemented in the UK under The Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013, members adopt a food safety management system based on the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). The member’s pre-requisites, food safety management systems plans and procedures, consider and include food allergens as a hazard when calculating and controlling the risks to food safety.

Key actions include: The goods received are the goods that were ordered, and no substitutes have been made without prior agreement; food allergens are stored in clearly marked, sealed containers on dedicated shelves or areas of the stores, fridge or freezer.

4. Food allergen labelling   

Adhere to responsibilities under The Food Information Regulations 2014 (FIR) that establish the enforcement measures for Regulation (EU)

No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (EU FIC).

Key actions include: Food allergen information given to customers by catering staff is accurate, consistent and verifiable upon challenge and a process is in place to enable accurate information is provided to all catering staff; staff need to be aware of the possibility of allergens that are not in the 14 major allergens.

5. Communication

Demonstrate effective communication throughout your community, regarding food allergens.

Key actions include: Food allergen provision is highlighted in marketing material and all food production and service areas, including delivered catering; food allergen information provided is accurate, accessible, clear and easy to understand.

Mike Haslin

6. Training

Demonstrate commitment to specific food allergen training for those team members involved in providing food.

Key actions include: Regular food allergen updates are given to team members as part of daily team briefings; staff know where to find out about ingredients of dishes and report any concerns regarding food allergens to line managers.

7. Emergency procedures

Have emergency procedures for dealing with anaphylaxis and for recording food allergen-related incidents.

Key actions include: To have an emergency first-aid plan in the event of a diner falling into anaphylactic shock; the procedures detailed in the emergency plan are up to date and rehearsed.

8. Auditing and reporting

Demonstrate commitment to continually high standards of food allergen management.

Key actions include: Catering management team carry out internal food allergen audits at least every six months, which include desk-based and visual audits; audit results are recorded, and any highlighted issues and corrective action taken noted.

The Code of Practice for Food Allergen Management is available for free via TUCO’s website tuco.ac.uk