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The Cost of Non-compliance: The Proof is in the Pudding!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Contents

The impact of the recent EU Food Information Regulations and the importance of compliance were highlighted last week when a young woman succeeded in legal action against an East London café that sold her a cupcake causing her to have a potentially fatal allergic reaction.The cupcake was labelled ‘wheat and sugar free’ but was topped with a cashew nut icing. Whilst other products were labelled ‘nut free’, this particular cupcake was not. The young woman, who has suffered from a severe nut allergy since birth, went into acute-anaphylactic shock and lost consciousness after just one mouthful of the cake and was rushed to hospital to be stabilised.The café has admitted liability for failing to alert her to all of the major allergens in the cupcake, as is legally required under the EU Food Information Regulations, and may also face a fine up to £5,000 for the offence.The case highlights the difficulty in allocating responsibility: Is the onus on vendors to inform their customers of potentially lethal allergens in their products? Or does the duty lie with those who know they have a serious allergy to alert restaurants and food retailers of this? The young woman in this case assumed that she could trust the accuracy of the retailers’ labelling, and whilst she spoke of the importance for allergy sufferers to ‘double and triple check’ with food sellers or the chef before eating something, any fellow allergen sufferer would empathise that this is a very idealistic view - there is a fine line between double and triple checking and sounding irritating or paranoid and even then, there may be human error.But the law is clear - since the passing of the EU Food Information Regulations, the onus is explicitly on every food and drink establishment to make customers aware if their food contains a major allergen.With over 17 million Europeans suffering from food allergies, and the number of hospital admissions for severe allergic reactions increasing by seven times in the last decade, compliance with the Regulations are more important than ever.My advice to vendors – use all of the help that's out there! Kafoodle Kitchen strikes the perfect balance, ensuring that food businesses and diners collaborate.By placing your recipes into the Kafoodle software, diners with specific dietary requirements can check the options available to them before going out to eat at the touch of a button. Customers are then incentivised to double-check with the waiting staff when they arrive, who will have the information easily accessible to them through the Kafoodle software.Ultimately, Kafoodle Kitchen builds a trust between food providers and allergy sufferers, bringing more business to restaurants using the software, as all customers will know that they can enjoy a meal there in confidence – not only will the software keep you compliant with the Regulations, it will enable you to view the legislation as a revenue opportunity rather than a hindrance.

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