UK Food Information Regulations

In the fast-paced world of restaurants and chippies, where delicious aromas entice customers and menus overflow with tempting choices, ensuring clear and accurate information about the food is paramount.  The UK Food Information Regulations (FIR) 2014, implemented to comply with EU Regulation 1169/2011, dictate how food businesses must provide this information. Navigating these regulations can feel overwhelming, but this comprehensive guide from Frymax, the UK’s leading supplier of certified sustainable palm oil, equips chippies and restaurants with a deeper understanding of the Food Information Regulations key points.

Demystifying the Food Information Regulations

The Food Information Regulations 2014 acts as a legal roadmap, outlining the essential requirements for labelling and providing information about the food you serve in the UK.  This ensures transparency for your customers, empowering them to make informed choices based on dietary needs, allergies, and preferences.

Key Regulations for Chippies and Restaurants

Allergen Awareness

Food allergies can pose serious health risks.  The Food Information Regulations prioritises highlighting allergenic ingredients. These include:

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lupin
  • Milk (including lactose)
  • Molluscs
  • Mustard
  • Nuts (specifically: almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, 
    macadamias, pecans, pistachios and walnuts)
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites

Pre-Packed Food

If you sell pre-packed items like bottled sauces, desserts, or pickled onions, allergens must be emphasised within the ingredients list. This can be done through bolding, italics, or a different colour to ensure they stand out.

Non-Prepacked Food

For freshly prepared dishes like fish and chips, curries, or pasties, you must still provide allergen information. This can be achieved through various methods:

  • Physical Signage: Clearly labelled posters or displays showcasing allergens in your food.
  • Menu Markings: Emphasise allergens within your menu descriptions or create a separate allergen key.
  • Verbal Communication: Train your staff to answer customer inquiries about allergens confidently and accurately.

Irradiated Ingredients

Do you use ingredients treated with ionising radiation to eliminate bacteria (a process known as irradiation)?  If so, this information must be displayed on the label or clearly communicated to the customer.

Additive Breakdown

Additives are substances added to food for various purposes, like enhancing flavour or extending shelf life.  The Food Information Regulations mandate declaring all additives present in your food, along with their specific function.  For example, “acidity regulator: citric acid” or “colouring: caramel (E150)”.

Food Nomenclature

The name of the food should be a clear and accurate description to avoid misleading customers.  For instance, a “vegetarian sausage roll” should not contain meat.

Focus on Labelling

  • Pre-Packed Allergen Labelling:  As highlighted earlier, the pre-packed food you sell must have allergens emphasised within the ingredients list.  Remember the 14 major allergens mandated for labelling: peanuts, gluten, milk, eggs, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, sulphur dioxide and sulphites, lupin, molluscs, fish, crustaceans, soybeans, and nuts.
  • Nutritional Labelling:  While not mandatory for all restaurants, nutritional labelling becomes a necessity if you make a nutritional claim about your food (e.g., “low-fat chips” or “high-protein fish pie”).  In such cases, you must provide information on energy, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars, protein, and salt.  The format and presentation of this information should adhere to specific regulations.
  • Distance Selling Considerations:  Do you take your culinary delights online or offer mail-order services?  The Food Information Regulations apply here too. Ensure all mandatory information (including allergens) is readily available at the point of sale, typically within the online food description.
  • Commercial Food Sales:  The Food Information Regulations extend beyond consumer-facing transactions.  If you supply ingredients to another restaurant or caterer, the necessary information (allergens, ingredients) needs to be clearly communicated on invoices or delivery documents.

Beyond the Basics

  • Business Identity:  The name and address of your business should be displayed on the label or readily available upon request.
  • Country of Origin:  For certain fresh, chilled, and frozen meats (pork, lamb, goat, poultry), the country of origin must be declared on the label.
  • Freezing Transparency:  If you freeze unpackaged food before selling it (e.g., homemade fishcakes), you must inform the customer.
  • Minced Meat Regulations:  Specific labelling requirements exist for minced meat, including the type of animal the meat comes from (e.g., 100% beef burger, lamb kofta).
  • Fat and Oil Disclosure:  The type of fat or oil used as an ingredient needs to be declared (e.g., sunflower oil, beef dripping).

Navigating the Food Information Regulations with Confidence

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) offers a wealth of resources to empower chippies and restaurants to confidently comply with the Food Information Regulations.  Here’s how the FSA can support you:

  • Downloadable Guidance Documents:  The FSA website provides comprehensive downloadable guidance documents specifically tailored to different food business types, including takeaways and restaurants. These documents explain the regulations in clear, easy-to-understand language, often accompanied by helpful diagrams and examples.
  • Training Materials:  The FSA offers various training materials, including online modules and in-person workshops, designed to educate food businesses on the Food Information Regulations’s intricacies.  These resources can equip your staff with the knowledge and skills to accurately label food and effectively communicate allergen information to customers.
  • Expert Helpline:  Do you have a specific question about a regulation or how it applies to your business?  The FSA operates a dedicated helpline staffed by food information specialists.  They can provide tailored advice and address any concerns you may have.
  • Resources: To further assist you, Frymax has guides on UK food safety management systems, UK food hygiene regulations, key requirements for food safety legislation, and even how to properly dispose of cooking oil.

Putting it all Together

Complying with the UK Food Information Regulations might seem daunting at first, but with a proactive approach and the support of the FSA, chippies and restaurants can ensure they are serving their customers not only delicious food but also food that is clearly and accurately labelled. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Prioritise Allergen Communication: Make allergen information readily available, whether through clear labelling, informative signage, or well-trained staff.
  • Embrace Transparency: Customers appreciate knowing exactly what they’re eating. Provide detailed information about ingredients, additives, and nutritional content (if applicable).
  • Maintain Accurate Records: Keep clear and up-to-date records of your ingredients and suppliers, especially for allergens, to ensure traceability.
  • Invest in Staff Training: Empower your staff with the knowledge to answer customer inquiries about food information confidently.
  • Stay Updated: Regulations can evolve. Regularly check the FSA website for any updates or amendments to the Food Information Regulations.

By following these steps and utilising the resources available, chippies and restaurants can navigate the Food Information Regulations with confidence, fostering a culture of transparency and building trust with their customers.  Remember, informed diners are happy diners, and happy diners keep your business thriving.

Sustainable RSPO Certified Palm Oil for Chippies and the Restaurant Industry

Are you looking for sustainable, premium grade frying oil? Choose Frymax! Our sustainably sourced palm oil is relied on by chippies, food trucks, hotels, and restaurants across the country to serve up high-quality fried foods. If you’d like to learn more or purchase RSPO certified palm oil for your restaurant, get in contact with Frymax. 

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24 April 2024