A day in a busy kitchen
I know better than most what that feels like “a day in a busy kitchen” I spent my entire working life being that chef running around like a headless chicken with never enough hours in the day to get ready for service. The “mise-en-place” list always never seemed to end, the workload got more and more, and now you want me to document what Allergens are in every dish I make?
I was that Chef asking that same question in 2013 when I first heard of the changes that were being brought into effect in December 2014. The new EU law was asking businesses to document the 14 most common food items that people were getting ill from.
I started this day already up the wall now you want me to do what?
It was all very daunting to many chefs, the hope that if we ignored it, it would go away was a BIG mistake. With all these changes to legislation there was a real reason why it was coming into force: to protect your customers and your business.
The food standard agency created a brief training course on their website, which is still very much used today and a brief tick box chart that can easily document what food stuff “Allergens” are in the dishes on the menu. Staff are trained to convey information from the kitchen to the customer who is enquiring exactly what is in the food that they want to order and consume.
Trading Standards and Environmental health officers were trained to police the new allergen laws, to check that kitchens were abiding to the law and completing all the relevant documentation.
Throughout the past 7 years we have seen some very high-profile cases that have hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The realisation that feeding people the wrong foods was killing them, business owners were being fined and imprisoned for the ignorance of turning a blind eye and believing it wouldn’t happen to them.
From 1st October 2021 the new Natasha’s Law will be introduced an addition to the Allergen law that was brought out in 2014, in fact the whole legislation has been tightened up (a final copy will be produced this month March 2021). It is no longer an EU legislation as we are no longer an EU state. So, it has given the FSA an opportunity to update the regulations (Food Information regulations 2019).
The Natasha’s law element of the regulation is an addition to the regs in connection with pre-packed foods for direct sale. These products will require a full ingredient label, so instead of chefs just worrying about the allergens within the food stuff they produce they now need to list full ingredients.
I cast my mind back to the day that I stood in that kitchen back in 2013 thinking how are we going to do this? I came up with Allergen Checker, a software-based database to help us all document allergens that is within our food stuff. It always worried me how much time it would take to create an accurate document that would convey accurate information. For me it was safer to do this in written form (as the Byron Burger episode demonstrated to us all, Chef- waitress- customer convey of verbal information failed to highlight a risk that resulted in a fatality).
Over the past 6 years we have developed a product that if “Pret a Manger” had used, Natasha would still be alive today. We have created an easy to use, comprehensive software package that will save lives.
Okay yes, you will need to put the time and effort in for the first few weeks of using Allergen Checker: as I read somewhere recently, “software will only give back what you put in.” But once you have documented all your ingredients within Allergen Checker, you can create dishes and menus in minutes.
And a major addition to our software is the ability to create full ingredient labels for pre-packed foods for direct sale.
So, by using our software you will save money in the long run.