The law requires registered food businesses to be able to tell consumers if there are any of 14 specified allergens present in the food they are going to buy.
As the law only applies to businesses, in general the labelling regulations do not apply to most food being sold by congregations. This includes food sold at one-off events such as church fêtes or coffee mornings. However, it is good practice to consider the risks.
If your congregation runs events which are more regular and organised, e.g. a café, it is likely to be registered with the local authority as a food business. In that case, the labelling provisions apply. If you sell loose foods – food not in its original manufacturer's packaging – then your customers must be able to find out if any of your food contains any of the 14 allergens specified in the regulation.
The 14 allergens need to be mentioned either on a label or provided on a menu. If they are on a label with other ingredients, they must be highlighted in some way, so they stand out. You could also have a notice directing people to speak to kitchen staff for more information. Staff will then need to be made aware of what ingredients are in the food so that they can answer any queries about allergens.
The 14 allergens which need to be mentioned are:
- Sesame seeds
- Cereals containing gluten
- Sulphur dioxide
Providing tea and biscuits after church on a Sunday would not fall under the definition of a food business, but it would still be best practice to avoid serving items such as biscuits containing nuts or any of the other allergens. In this case, where biscuits are provided from a packet, you could retain the packet so that you can answer any queries about ingredients by referring to it.
Some local authorities have already made direct contact with Congregations who are registered in their area as a food business.
Please ensure that your church is fully aware of the legislation and rules for the food products and items that are being prepared and offered for consumption. Additional information and guidance is available on the Food Standards Scotland website.