OVER 100 chefs and restauranteurs – from household names to small, family-run restaurants – have signed an open letter which criticises the EU allergen law.
The letter, signed by hundreds of industry professionals, suggests that the new regulations will inflict significant damage on the catering industry, costing an estimated £200 million.
The new EU allergen regulations came into force in December last year, it requires caterers to display allergens present within any food or drink they serve. There is a total of 14 allergens, including soya, nuts, peanuts, eggs, celery, crustaceans, cereals containing gluten, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs, mustard, sesame seeds and sulphur dioxide. If an establishment fails to name the allergens on menus and packaging, fines of up to £5,000 can be enforced.
Campaign group, Business for Britain, created the letter about the EU regulations as they ‘represent a disproportionate burden on the catering industry and reduce choice for customers’, it reads: “As chefs, restauranteurs, hoteliers and caterers, we are concerned about the bureaucratic nightmare the recent EU allergen regulations have imposed on our businesses.
“And it is not just the cost. They will reduce the spontaneity, creativity and innovation restaurants and others in the industry have enjoyed up until now.
“We need real change in the EU as the last thing small, independent businesses like restaurants and cafes need is to be hampered with further regulations and an even longer rulebook. What will the EU Commission cook up next?!”
Leading figures including Great British Menu judge, Prue Leith; Restauranteur, Albert Roux OBE and co-founder of Wahaca, Thomasina Miers have said that the rules ‘reduce the spontaneity, creativity and innovation’ within the industry.
Speaking to Business for Britain, Luke Johnson, Chairman of Patisserie Valerie said: “It is vital that those in the restaurant business speak out against these new rules, which are imposing substantial costs on the sector and placing jobs at risk.”
Thomasina Miers added: “It is a total fiasco and in my view is the responsibility of the allergee to ask, not the restaurateurs to list. I had a severe allergy for 6 years so coming at it from both sides of the fence.”
However, Robin Birley, Proprietor of 5 Hertford Street Ltd, gave an alternative perspective: “I welcome the formation of this new campaign, which raises a crucial issue for the future of the catering industry.”