Welcome to the first edition of my Weekend Waffle.
I thought I would take this opportunity to share about my week, what’s been going on in the business, what’s coming up during February, and news from the allergy world.
I was away from Sunday to Wednesday, to deliver a Level 3 Supervising Food Safety for Catering course, in Southend-on-Sea. There were12 people on the course, and we all had a great time. The highlights of my week were two-fold, and I must admit to getting just a tad excited.
Firstly, I could get some form of breakfast at the hotel, though I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t have either the gluten-free bread, or the hash browns, even though their allergen information said I could. I pointed out to the member of staff that it needed to be sorted out, but I am also following it up with the management.
Secondly, the venue where I was delivering the training invited me to join them for lunch. I was a little apprehensive, because it was a café where they serve fish and chips, burgers, sausages and the like, the usual offerings of a seaside eatery. I always take provisions with me because of my food hypersensitivities, so I wasn’t going to go without nourishment anyway. I was very impressed with the menu and allergen information, in fact, they have a full ingredients list for everything they offer. They use dedicated fryers for the chips, and they are all gluten-free as standard. There were also options for gluten free afternoon tea, and vegan options too. Sadly, the only thing I could have, was a portion of the chips, because I have so many dietary restrictions, but for my Coeliac friends it was quite good.
How and why?
I had a conversation with the Catering Director and was informed that they have been doing the full ingredients list, and using dedicated fryers for the past ten years, since they knew about FIR1169/2011 coming into effect in 2014. It really makes me wonder why so many venues don’t do the same thing. Here we are, almost ten years since the introduction of the allergen information regulations, and it is still almost impossible to get accurate, current, user-friendly ingredient information. Are you still using shared fryers? Are you still hiding your ingredients and allergen information in the chef’s brain, the cellar, or an app?
Back in the office
Thursday saw the results of some other courses I delivered recently drop into my Highfield portal, and I am delighted to say that those candidates were all successful in passing their exams. Most of the Level 3 candidates achieved Distinctions. I am very proud of them, and myself. I always feel that I have failed if a candidate fails, it reflects on my teaching, but at the end of the day, I cannot take the exam for them, or help them with it.
There has been another allergy related death in the news in America. Orla Baxendale, a dancer aged 25, died after eating a cookie containing peanut, which was not mentioned on the label. Two adrenaline auto-injectors were used, but it was not enough to save her life. There are two companies involved in a dispute over who is to blame, the cookie producer, and the labelling provider. Each is saying the other is responsible for the incorrect information on the label. Read more here www.allergicliving.com
An Indian restaurant in Whitehaven, Cumberland, was the subject of a court case after being found to have undeclared peanut in their curry in a test purchase by Trading Standards. The owners had been visited, and warned previously, but they denied knowledge of the advice given. This is the kind of thing that can kill a person who has allergies. The owners were fined a combined amount of £1345, plus £1000 each in court costs, and £538 victim surcharge between them. Here’s the link to the article The Little Indian in Whitehaven fined for allergy 'negligence' | Whitehaven News
This week alone, there have been five allergy alerts from the Food Standards Agency, bringing the total to seven this year. The first was on 9th January, so we are averaging 2.3 incidents per week thus far, that we know about. It is really concerning that products reach the supermarket before such issues are discovered. This is the link for the Food Standards Agency Search Results | Food Standards Agency
I'm Stella, here to help you avoid being the subject of the courtroom and bad news, supporting you in the provision of allergen information and safe food for the food allergic diner.
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