FSAI & Varadkar Launch Allergen Tool for Food Businesses

Monday, 9 November 2015

A new, online and mobile compatible tool has been developed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to assist Ireland’s 22,000 food service businesses identify and manage allergens in the food they serve. The easy-to-use facility was launched today by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to help food businesses comply with their legal requirements to display allergen information on food so that consumers can make more informed choices about the food they purchase. The tool is an additional application as part of the FSAI’s MenuCal calorie calculator, which is available free-of-charge. MenuCal enables food service businesses to calculate calorie values in the food they serve to customers.

The legal requirement to display allergen information applies to all food businesses, including restaurants, pubs, takeaways, contract caterers, food stalls, as well as businesses offering delivery services. Retail outlets such as shops and supermarkets selling prepacked food are also required to display allergen declarations for non-prepacked products. Written food allergen information must be easily located and accessible to the consumer and clearly identify the food allergen associated with individual food items. The 14 categories of allergens covered include gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, celery, eggs, fish and shellfish.

Minister Varadkar said: “Many people with allergies have to be extra careful when they eat out. Last year I made it compulsory for food businesses to label allergens on non-prepacked food products. This new MenuCal facility is a really useful online tool that reminds businesses about allergens when they’re calculating the calorie content of their menus. Well done to the FSAI for designing MenuCal and I’m delighted that other countries are now looking to adopt it. I hope it makes life easier and safer for both customers and food providers.”

According to Dr Pamela Byrne, Chief Executive, FSAI, the allergen tool is an important additional FSAI resource for chefs and managers, helping food businesses more easily comply with their legal obligation to inform consumers of allergens in food. The tool streamlines the management of allergen information by enabling chefs to electronically store allergen information for all the ingredients they are use in their own secure account. This means when ingredients change, food businesses simply update the information in MenuCal and every recipe that uses the ingredients will update automatically.

    “Most people take for granted that they can enjoy food without undue risk. However, a significant number of people need to be ever-cautious and avoid certain food allergens, which can cause severe and possibly life-threatening reactions. Clear and accurate labelling of allergens is therefore essential as even trace amounts can have serious consequences for those affected,” said Dr Byrne. “This is where the FSAI’s allergen tool will be of significant assistance to food businesses by helping them meet their obligations. Additional resources include a leaflet and FAQs are also available by visiting its website.”


Notes to Editors:

About MenuCal
The FSAI designed MenuCal in consultation with a team of nutritionists, computer scientists and food business trainers to create an easy-to-use solution for the Irish market that would act as a resource for chefs and cooks. It is being used by chefs who were instrumental in its initial design to ensure it is instinctive and straightforward to use.

MenuCal is considered a first of its kind in Europe and the FSAI has already received interest from other jurisdictions wishing to adopt the system. The tool incorporates over 2,000 popular food ingredients which users can add to and customise, based on their own recipes. It also provides a secure and safe place for chefs and cooks to keep personalised recipes and maintain files of their most popular dishes under password protection. MenuCal can be tried and tested at www.menucal.ie

 FSAI Leaflet on Allergen Information for Non-Prepacked Food

 Guidance Note No. 28: Food Allergen Information for Non-Prepacked Foods in Ireland
 Allergen labelling FAQ

 Details of 14 allergens as listed in Annex II to Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 (FIC)