Are the Allergen Laws changing in July 2016
On the 20th July 2016, the gluten labelling laws are changing. This is to keep them in line with Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (FIC); and implementing Regulation (EU) No 828/2014 on the requirements for the provision of information to consumers on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in food.
What are the changes?
The rules surrounding the terms ‘gluten free’ and ‘very low gluten’ are not changing they’re simply being reassigned to a new piece of legislation. What do we know about these two terms? The term gluten free should only be used if you can consistently prove that the food item/dish contains less than or equal to 20 parts per million gluten; and in the case of very low gluten it should only be used if you can consistently prove that the food item/dish contains less than or equal to 100 parts per million gluten. However, the new rules do make a distinction between foods that are naturally gluten free and foods that have been specially manufactured to be gluten free e.g. gluten free foods that are available on prescription. The new rules will allow the following statements in respect of naturally gluten free foods: ‘suitable for coeliacs’ and ‘suitable for people intolerant to gluten’; and for specially manufactured foods: ‘specifically formulated for coeliacs’ and ‘specifically formulated for people intolerant to gluten’
What about No Gluten Containing Ingredients (NGCI)
We spoke to the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) today and this is what they said: “for non-prepacked foods, “no gluten containing ingredients” (NGCI) cannot be attributed to a single dish e.g. Cottage pie (NGCI). However, if you have a menu with sections listing starters, main courses and desserts, we consider a section on NGCI choices permissible. We also consider it acceptable to use NGCI in menu titles provided that all the items do not use gluten containing ingredients, such as “No gluten containing ingredients menu” or statements such as “All dishes on this menu do not use gluten containing ingredients”.
So, what does this mean in practical terms for restaurants, pubs, hotels, cafes, events caterers, etc.? Put simply, if you have best practice procedures in place you can present your coeliac diners with a separate menu that says: “The following dishes have been prepared using no gluten containing ingredients”. You could also present the same menu on a blackboard using the same statement: the following dishes have been prepared using no gluten containing ingredients; or if your servers have particularly good memories they can present the list of dishes verbally and once again say they have been prepared using no gluten containing ingredients.
What you cannot do under the new legislation is say, for example, “the beef dish has been prepared using no gluten containing ingredients” on a menu with other allergen containing dishes. You also cannot (and this has always been the case in food-serving establishments) call something on your menu ‘gluten free’ – unless you can substantiate this. There will be a transition period for compliance due to the short notice of the legislation.