Allergen awareness & food businesses
The Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code -Standard 1.2.3 clause 4 Mandatory Warning and Advisory Statements and Declarations- requires that eight allergens listed in the Table to clause 4 (listed below) must be advised to customers either on the package of a food, or by the request of the customer.
The following documents have been designed to assist food businesses to identify food allergens and provide some supporting materials that can help a business implement a basic plan on handling and preparing foods with allergens.
Please note that in order to ensure non-allergenic food is not mixed in with allergenic food, it is best to keep preparation areas and equipment separate and to make sure the equipment is properly cleaned.
Following the Ilhan Food Allergy Conference in November 2007, the Minister for Health Victoria announced funding for a pilot program, involving local councils, to educate hospitality staff about food allergens.
In January 2008 a working party chaired by Dr John Carnie, Chief Health Officer and Director, Health Protection, Department of Health Victoria, was established to develop the methodology and preside over the conduct of the pilot program.
The working party included representatives from Restaurant and Catering Victoria, The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Clubs Victoria, Australian Hotels Association, Anaphylaxis Australia, Ilhan Foundation and Coeliac Society of Victoria.
The working party met through 2008 and 2009.
The pilot program aimed to improve the knowledge of food handlers regarding food allergies so they could accurately advise customers of allergenic ingredients in the food they serve. The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code requires that the following substances must be advised to customers either on the package of a food, or by the request of the customer-
- Cereals containing gluten and their products namely wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt and their hybrid strains
- Crustacea and their products
- Egg and egg products
- Fish and fish products
- Milk and milk products
- Tree nuts and sesame nuts and their products other then coconut
- Peanuts and soybeans and their products
- Added sulphites in concentrations of 10mg/kg or more
The pilot program took place in Melbourne and Ballarat in July and September 2009, in co-operation with the Ballarat City Council and Melbourne City Council.
A series of food allergy information resources were distributed to over 4000 food businesses in Melbourne CBD and Ballarat, along with the offer of formal training for interested persons. A pre-test questionnaire was also distributed to the food businesses.
In the final stage of the pilot program late in 2009, all food businesses in the pilot sites were sent a post test questionnaire and educational materials. The pre test and post test were designed to evaluate the effects of training programs and education materials.
The pilot Program brought together a large number of materials and resources to create a training package, which were utilised during the pilot program.
Further work is proceeding in developing the most effective way of giving access to information materials.