Crowds flock to Allergen Checker stand at Expo

Thousands of business owners in the catering and restaurant industry had the opportunity to learn more about important new UK food regulations at a recent exhibition in London.

Exhibitors from across the UK and beyond took part in Europe’s biggest catering exhibition, the Restaurant & Takeaway Innovation Expo, at the ExCel convention centre on November 9 and 10, attracting thousands of visitors.

And many of these attendees were queuing up to ask Mark Morgan-Huntley – the owner of Allergen Checker – for advice about their new responsibilities under ‘Natasha’s Law’, which became legally binding in the UK on October 1.

Natasha’s Law

Under the new regulations, food outlets must provide full ingredients lists with clear allergen labelling on all food that is pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS)*. The new rules were introduced following the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after eating a pre-packaged baguette which at the time did not require ingredients labelling. The new law creates more consistency in the labelling of pre-packed products and gives more protection for people with food allergies and intolerances.

But while the intention is that millions of people with food allergies, intolerances and coeliac disease should be able to make safer choices about the food they buy, so far it seems that many business-owners – for example some who run cafes and sandwich shops – are not yet complying with the new law and may perhaps even be completely unaware of it.

Exciting event

Mark said: “The Expo was amazing, our stand was incredibly busy and we had a constant stream of people wanting more information about Natasha’s Law, and the Allergen Checker service.

“It is a worry that lots of businesses are still unfamiliar with the new requirements, but it was good to see so many people approaching us at the Expo with a positive attitude and a desire to comply with the rules and so keep their customers safe.”

The Expo gave visitors an insight into the innovations and technologies that are changing the face of the industry. Mark added: “This was my first time at the exhibition. It was a huge event and it was exciting to meet so many potential new clients.

“Some were start-ups planning ahead for their launch next year, others were established small independent businesses that want to update their labelling to ensure full compliance with Natasha’s Law, and then there were some big corporate organisations that need to make large-scale changes.”

Award nomination

The prestigious Expo puts on its own awards in recognition of its outstanding exhibitors, and Allergen Checker was one of the nominees for the show’s ‘Product Innovation Award’.

“The nomination for the Expo award came as a complete surprise! Although we didn’t win, it still felt like a fitting recognition of all the hard work we’ve put into developing a product that we truly believe in, which can help so many people,” Mark said.

A chef by trade, Mark, who hails from York and has more than 30 years’ experience in restaurant and kitchen management, launched Allergen Checker to make compliance with the new food labelling regulations quick, easy, and convenient.

Allergen Checker is an online system that enables business owners to easily identify and display all allergens and ingredients in their food products. It allows users to create their own virtual store cupboard, input ingredients, identify allergens and print customised menus and full ingredient labels to attach to items, so customers know exactly what’s in their food.

Non-compliance with the new Natasha’s Law rules could result in a business facing serious financial penalties, and potentially criminal prosecution.

Mark concluded: “The good news is that with Allergen Checker, you can meet all your food labelling obligations, from printed ingredient labels to menus, from less than £1 per day.”