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What’s the Real Cost to Retailers of Inaccurate Food Allergen Reporting?

Posted by Gareth Aitken

June 30, 2016 at 5:19 AM


With the enactment of the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC), there’s a whole host of allergen information that food retailers now need to provide for customers, but are retailers managing to keep it all up-to-date and accurate?  There’s evidence that many are either not aware of the new rules or are finding the challenge too great.

The EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No. 1169/2011 came into force across Europe at the end of 2014 and applies to all EU member states, including the UK for the foreseeable future.  It requires all food service organisations serving unpackaged food or food packaged on site for immediate consumption to supply details of items which contain the EU 14 major allergens.  These are illustrated below.


One study in 2015, by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), found just over two thirds of UK takeaways appeared to be breaking the law.  Recorded problems included an inability to supply the legally required allergen information when asked as well as no records of allergens used as ingredients.

A second survey by the Food Allergy Training Consultancy (FATC) found the problems still persisted at the end of 2015, even though this was nearly twelve months after the introduction of EU FIC legislation.  Although the numbers of allergen sufferers eating out has grown, the survey highlighted only 38% of respondents felt safe when eating out since the changes were introduced.  Particular problems listed included conflicting information and errors in accuracy or quality.

The negative implications of these problems are wide ranging.  There is the likelihood of a reduction in revenue caused by low confidence amongst allergen sufferers.  The fines issued for non-compliance can be significant and in the UK, the maximum limit has been removed meaning magistrates can now decide on a case by case basis what penalty to impose.  Finally and most importantly, there are potentially serious health consequences for any consumer given incorrect information.

Fortunately there are significant benefits to compliance.  With the implementation of effective and efficient processes to ensure accuracy and confidence it’s possible for food retailers to retain and grow their customer base, while saving costs.  Allergen sufferers eating out has until recently been an untapped market, but as the FATC survey shows numbers in this consumer group to have risen by 54% to the end of 2015, it’s worth finding the right solution.

To be compliant and build confidence, all retailers of non-prepacked food must list a breakdown of allergens for each item, dish or filling in an obvious place.  Until now this has often required manual efforts such as comments on a menu, chalkboard or hand-written product information.  These methods can be time consuming, costly and error prone.

In response, there are now automated, professional and durable solutions which can deliver the required accuracy and efficiency to meet the EU FIC requirements by quickly, clearly and consistently printing product and allergen information on dual sided, dishwasher safe PVC cards. 

The Zebra Food Safe Card solution can do all that is required in just a few quick and easy steps, as well as connecting to business systems for easy management and updates.  The result is a branded plastic card, complete with all the appropriate information, in no more than 10 seconds for dual sided printing.

All Zebra cards are tested to Commission Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 (14 January 2011 with amendments) and the ribbons are ISEGA approved for use on food safe cards.

To find out more information about this solution please click here, or to request a sample of food safe cards please enter your details here.


Topics: Retail, EMEA, Allergens,, Food Safety