Regulations for food chains preparing food on their premises

Following the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, Allergy UK are calling for changes to the food labelling regulations as they apply to chains preparing high volumes of food on their individual sites. Currently the Food Information Regulations 2014 require food outlets preparing food on their own premises to give allergen information on signs, on shelves, or verbally, if the food is prepared on the same day in an onsite kitchen. Allergy UK believes individual product labelling is the most effective way of communicating vital information for people with food allergies.

In South Africa, TV and radio personality Relebogile Mabotja went into anaphylactic shock in a Johannesburg restaurant in May 2018 and had to be rushed to hospital after being served a meal containing nuts‚ despite informing the waiter that she was highly allergic. Read full story.

AFSA has asked FACTS to comment on the SA regulations in relation to this latest UK incidence. There are two pieces of regulations in South Africa that talk directly or indirectly about the declaration of allergens in unpackaged food, such as the sandwich that Natasha Ednan-Laperouse reacted to says Comaine van Zijl from FACTS (Food & Allergy Consulting and Testing Services).

Regulation 146 (labelling and advertising of foodstuffs)

In section 54.3.h, it states that allergens information must be available, upon request, to consumers at point of sale of ready-to-eat foodstuff prepared and sold on the premises of catering establishments. A catering establishment is defined as “any establishment including a vehicle or a fixed or mobile stall where, in the course of business, ready-to-eat foodstuffs are prepared for direct sale to the consumer for consumption”.

The same regulations, in section 44.1, require manufacturers of prepacked food to be able to supply consumers with information regarding the presence of uncommon allergens on request. This section was included in the regulation to create a mechanism through which consumers, with unusual food allergies (or even allergies to food that are not considered to be common allergens, e.g. lupin, sesame, celery, red meat, etc.), can get ingredient information from manufacturers. The “uncommon allergen” definition was purposefully kept open ended so it will cover multiple ingredients.

Consumer Protection Act

The second regulation is of course the consumer protection act. In the act it states that consumers must be protected against hazards associated with products and that they have the right to information in clear understandable language.

Although there are no accurate statistics in SA on other food service related incidences, AFSA and FACTS are fully aware of the need for an increase in allergen awareness in the restaurant, catering and other food service industries.  Please see more details regards the AFSA proposal to roll out FAST training in the near future.