The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK is inviting applications for a research project into food allergies. The project will look at how people with food allergies and intolerances prefer information to be provided when eating out.

The FSA comment that ‘this work will inform the implementation of the new allergy requirements under the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation before the rules apply in December 2014’.

The EU Regulation (1169/2011) updates allergen labelling requirements for pre-packed foods. However, in addition, the Regulation will require allergy information to be provided on non -pre-packed foods including those sold in restaurants and cafés. This means that the 14 food allergens listed in the Regulation, including peanuts, milk, eggs and gluten, will need to be specifically highlighted to customers.

Operators will be able to provide this information in ways that best suit their individual business – on a menu, a chalkboard or as part of a conversation with staff, although in reality it may be difficult to demonstrate effective compliance if a business relies on verbal communication only.  Therefore, hospitality and leisure operators selling non-prepacked food may need to review their menus, train staff, engage with suppliers and review food preparation (in terms of cross -contamination) over the coming months to ensure that they will be in a position to comply with the Regulation.

The deadline for applications to participate in the research project is 5pm on Monday 18 November 2013.