Getting to grips with allergens and nutritional data is nothing new for caterers, restaurants and pretty much anyone operating in the food service industry. But with the deadline, along with the expectations around being ready for Natasha’s Law fast approaching, many hospitality firms are feeling well out of their depth.
Many of our customers, who are in the midst of dealing with the upcoming legislation in terms of ensuring they are in a position to react, are finding that much of the pressures associated with the topic of allergens, is another knock-on effect of the pandemic. In the sense that many hospitality businesses are still trying to re-establish themselves following previous lockdowns and long periods of closure, and there is certainly an underlying fear of restrictions coming back into play again this winter.
The supply chain itself, is struggling with juggling the basics of what they are expected to do on a consistent basis (deliver food), alongside providing accurate legislative data on what items they do physically deliver. There is also a genuine concern across the sector that many of the businesses that usually have freedom and flexibility with their menu planning, and who serve a captive and repetitive customer base, will have to revert to more rigid menus and recipes to fit with legislation, which could stifle both their customer loyalty and their revenues longer term.
The secondary consequence of this is a pathway towards menu fatigue, which no food service operator wishes to go down. Likewise, food wastage is another very real issue – if operators cannot trace allergens in the items they already have in stock, there is a potential for food to be wasted. Using the right eProcurement technology, which also supports menu planning in a way where allergens are automated and managed all the way through the supply chain and updated, recorded and managed in line with current laws for every item purchased/delivered, is vital for peace of mind. More importantly, it ensures that operators can continue to be diverse and innovative with their recipes while being alerted to any changes or updates.
The variety of dietary trends today and the growing emphasis on plant-based diets means operators need to continue to innovate with their menus to keep up with consumer demand, and that is regardless of new legislation. Consumers rightly expect to purchase food safely with any allergens clearly labelled, just as operators should expect to be able to identify what ingredients are used in every item purchased from manufacturers and suppliers.