Action is needed to address allergen food safety but including it as part of the Food Hygiene Rating System (FHRS) could do more harm than good, CIEH has warned.
Calls have been made from some within the sector for the government and the Food Standards Agency to step up action around food allergens following a number of high profile deaths involving members of the public suffering from allergic reaction.
CIEH agreed given the risks faced by those individuals with allergy intolerances there is a need for much clearer public information on how well a business is complying with legal requirements concerning allergens.
However, it also warned against adding it to the existing FHRS without further understanding and evidence. Without this, any change could risk undermining the hygiene scheme, as well as a long called-for roll out of mandatory display of ratings in England.
Gary McFarlane, CIEH director for Northern Ireland, said: “There have been strong calls, including from ourselves, for mandatory display of food hygiene ratings in England as is the case across the rest of the UK.
“However, adding allergens to the scheme needs further consideration as, without better understanding of the implications of such a move, and in particular whether that would actually adequately inform consumers relating specifically to allergens, such a move could further delay the prospect of a mandatory scheme for England.
“An added complication is that any decision to alter the FHRS would have to be voted through by the devolved governments, and that potentially a situation could arise where FHRS ratings scored different things across countries. This could add to confusion, posing more risk, rather than clarifying it.”