I’m sure you will have heard in the news this week about Pret a Manger’s inadequate product labelling resulting in the 15 year old, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse suffering a cardiac arrest and sadly died as a result of eating a baguette containing Sesame.
There are currently 14 recognised allergens that must be declared, of which Sesame is one of them.
However as the food was prepared on site, like most pubs, restaurants and takeaways, the information was not available on the packaging of the baguette.
This is such a sad story, and this weekend I have had a few of our retail customers contacting me a little panicked as they needed reassurance. All food producers have to declare all the known allergens. We provide this information with all our products, and as we know that our packaging will be disposed of with our retail customers, we provide a fact sheet so they always have the information to hand. We make Gluten Free and Dairy Free products, we use nuts on our premises, but we are so careful with our production methods. Our Gluten Free Flour and associated ingredients are in a cupboard at the complete opposite end of the kitchen to our flour containing gluten. Our nuts are in a separate cupboard on the bottom shelf, so there is no chance of them spilling onto our dried fruits (sulphites) on the shelf above. We take allergens seriously, because as this sad case shows, allergies are serious.
Unfortunately I also know people with allergies that aren’t listed within the 14 that are current recognised. They have an allergy to bananas, lemons and strawberries.
I’ve been in catering for 21 years, allergies are something that us business owners and food handlers have to be aware of now, that was not something we had to worry about when I first started. It does take a lot of time to keep the paperwork side updated, we have over 70 products on our wholesale side to the business, and it is my responsibility to provide this information.
I am always looking to improve where we can and on reflection of this past week, although we provide allergy information with each cake box, to make sure we can have the information ready for anyone at anytime should they need it, I will be making a fact sheet with all our allergens for our boxes available as a PDF to access on our website this week.
For more information on allergens, visit www.food.gov.uk they even offer a FREE online allergen course.