Derby has just under 2000 premises that serve food and due to an increase in injuries to members of the public as a result of unexpected or undeclared allergens in food, a focused project was set up by the Trading Standards team decided to study the level of allergen management compliance in the City. The project was designed to target the most relevant traders to use resources effectively.

Research showed that the licensed premise trade in general had not received regular visits from Trading Standards Officers for a number of years as this type of premises is not considered high risk.

Initially, the team wrote to 52 premises overdue for an inspection offering guidance on their responsibilities as a retailer of food and intoxicating liquor.  This letter was accompanied by a number of CTSI (Chartered Trading Standards Institute) advice leaflets.

This was followed by a physical visit by Trading Standards officers to 36 premises to audit their systems in particular the legislation involved in managing food allergens and retailing intoxicating liquor.

Each premise was audited against a pre-determined set of criteria in order to achieve consistency across the visits that were undertaken by a number of different officers with the aim of ensuring that correct allergen information is available to consumers and that businesses appreciate the importance of allergens in food and the potential impacts of getting it wrong.

In addition all other traditional trading standards compliance issues were checked e.g. weights and measures, spirit drink authenticity.

The project has highlighted that the level of allergen management across this sector was poor and less than half of the premises inspected had a complete, robust and up to date allergen management system in place.

Issues of non-compliance were raised, advice and guidance provided and action plans were agreed and followed up.  In particular, one pub chain that was not declaring nuts in food items served on its breakfast buffet has undertaken an urgent national review, one chain that was advertising frozen pizzas as ‘homemade’ have changed this description and another pub chain that was ‘over-declaring’ allergens, i.e. describing food items as containing allergens that were not actually present in the food, have also undertaken a national review of their systems to remedy this issue.

Cllr Jonathan Smale, Cabinet Member for Communities, Neighbourhoods and Streetpride said:

This has been a really positive exercise and we’ve seen some really good results. It’s so important that traders implement the necessary allergen management to protect the health of their customers.”