UKHospitality has reacted to news that the Food Standards Agency has recommended mandatory full ingredient labelling for pre-packed food.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls says: “Customer safety is obviously a key issue for hospitality. Consumers and policy-makers feel strongly about it and hospitality businesses are equally serious about the matter. That is why many businesses have already implemented their own measures to ensure that customers remain safe, and the industry continues to work with stakeholders, including the FSA, on the issue.
“However, full ingredient labelling is not the way forward. Creating an atmosphere where customers and staff feel confident discussing allergens is the best way to ensuring safety. The Government should not act on the FSA’s recommendations.
“Full listing of ingredients is going to cause significant issues for businesses. The majority of hospitality businesses are small businesses and full labelling is not something that can be carried out accurately or effectively by chefs in a busy kitchen; nor can it be done by other members of staff who would need technical expertise to do so.“Full labelling may also create a reliance on labelling that could prove to be less safe. There is the possibility of mis-labelling and no accounting for cross-contact which cannot be totally avoided. Not only is full ingredient labelling wholly impractical for some businesses, it may provide customers with a false sense of security.
“Some businesses, particularly smaller ones, may be put off making their own food on-site altogether and may resort to selling only pre-packaged food prepared offsite. This could lead to much less choice for customers and, as these products tend to go out of date more quickly, could exacerbate the problem of food waste.
“The best way to keep customers safe is by empowering them to talk to staff members with the confidence that the information they receive is accurate and useful. We should not be discouraging customers from discussing allergens by relying on labelling alone.”