The technology already exists to prevent tragic deaths from food allergies but the hospitality industry is being slow to adopt it.
That’s according to Regency Purchasing Group, one of the UK’s leading procurement businesses, whose managing director Alex Demetriou has been campaigning for decades for more to be done to make allergy information much clearer.
Alex said businesses need to take more responsibility for protecting staff from being put in a tragic situation where they may feel to blame for someone’s death when the technology is now available to provide businesses and their staff members with easy access to up-to-date allergen information.
Alex spoke out in the aftermath of a Parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall last week on two petitions, one calling on the Government to appoint an allergy tsar and the other calling for Owen’s Law to be introduced.
Owen Carey was celebrating his 18th birthday in 2017 when he bought a chicken burger.
Although he told the server about his dairy allergy, the server was unaware that the chicken had been marinated in buttermilk.
Since Owen’s tragic death his family have been campaigning for the introduction of Owen’s Law, which would compel restaurants to state the allergens in their dishes, specifically on the face of the main menu.
Regency Purchasing Group works with more than 5,000 businesses across the UK, supplying food and drink to hotel groups, restaurant chains, zoos, farm parks, visitor attractions and others.
The group also runs several successful hospitality businesses, giving it a unique insight as both a supplier and an operator.
“One of the issues raised in the Parliamentary debate concerned more training for staff, to ensure that they are aware of all the allergens.
“But many businesses employ lesser experienced, transient staff, many of whom tend to be young – for some it may well be their first job – and on minimum wage, all of which means that the skill sets to understand all there is to know about dishes, ingredients and allergies simply doesn’t exist.
“The emphasis should be placed more on business owners to ensure that updated information is easily accessible and readily available to all staff members, to alleviate the pressure placed on the individual, especially in a sector where staff turnover is so high.
“Perhaps some businesses – particularly in the current financial climate – are concerned about the costs of introducing technology to help their staff.
“Many other sectors have embraced technology in recent years to deliver efficiencies, yet the food and beverage sector seems slow to use technology which, ultimately, can prevent tragic loss of life which, in turn, would have a positive impact on consumer confidence.
“Thousands of people have signed the petitions for Owens Law, and for the introduction of an allergy tsar.
“Owen’s family don’t want to see his death be in vain, and for other families to have to suffer the kind of loss they have. The technology is there now to make this happen, it just needs more businesses in the sector to take more responsibility and embrace it.
“Perhaps this is something that the Government can do quickly in response to the petitions, which is to look at the technology already out there and compel businesses to adopt it and protect their customers and, in doing so, their businesses.
“There’s nothing more heart-breaking than a death which could so easily have been preventable. The way to stop more senseless tragedies like Owen’s story exists and is out there now.
“We just need the Government and the sector to wake up to it and let today’s technology protect people and increase consumer confidence, which can only be good for food and beverage businesses.”
“Here at Regency, we have developed and launched MenuIQ, an allergen management system to help operators ensure compliance and reduce (and hopefully eliminate) allergy incidents within their businesses.
With the right allergen management system in place, business owners are not just protecting their customers and their business; they’re also building an allergy-friendly brand, gaining trust, loyalty and repeat visits from allergy sufferers.”
ENDS May 2023.
Issued on behalf of Regency Purchasing Group by Empica. For further information, or if you would like to arrange an interview with Alex Demetriou, contact Darren Bane or Martin Powell on 01275 394 400 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com