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Takeaways warned over allergen compliance after food sampling survey

Article date - 16 March 2020

Residents with allergies are being protected by St Helens Council after a new round of food sampling surveys prompts environmental health enforcement of several local food takeaways.
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Ten takeaways were sampled for common allergens in popular dishes, including soya in kebab meat and sesame in chicken chow mien and shredded beef.

Six of these failed because they sold food to a customer that contained an allergen that the customer had told the business they were allergic to.

Following the sampling results environmental health officers visited each of the businesses that had failed. It was found that there were three main reasons why a business had failed these were:

Businesses were advised that they must make sure that they have all the allergen information for all ingredients and food that they use. Allergen information should be found on the labels and if this information was missing they were advised not to use the food until the labels were obtained. Where labels were incorrect the manufacturer has been contacted by Trading Standards.

Every business has cooperated fully with the council’s enforcement, which has also highlighted an issue with the poor standard of labelling of a particular food manufacturer.

This round of testing was funded by Trading Standards North West.

An assessment of how effectively allergens are being managed by a business is part of the environmental health’s routine food hygiene inspections, looking at staff training and understanding of allergens; checking the accuracy of any available allergen information; supporting businesses to free Food Standards Agency guidance; and, if necessary, serving notices for non-compliance or an unwillingness to cooperate.

The standard of how well allergens are being managed is also factored into the scoring of a business, potentially impacting the overall food hygiene rating score.

Councillor Martin Bond, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “This news may concern residents living with allergies, as the consequences for some people who mistakenly eat certain foods can be harmful and even fatal, but we are doing all we can to protect you.

“If you have a food allergy or intolerance, it’s important that you have all the information you need to make a safe food choice, whether eating out or ordering a takeaway. We will continue to enforce food standard regulations and will be actively monitoring compliance over the coming months, to ensure the legal requirements for allergen controls are being met.”

Advice for those with a food allergy or intolerance when eating out at a restaurant, café or food outlet, or ordering a takeaway over the phone or online is available at www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/allergy-and-intolerance.