From 2014, it became a legal requirement for all food allergens used as ingredients to be declared on product packaging or at the point of sale.
Although it is now a legal requirement, businesses have generally been slow to implement clear allergen communication technology and have been caught out in numerous instances. Small mistakes or ignorance has led to tragedies, business closures and lengthy imprisonment.
High profile news stories have shown serious penalties for big brand chains and independents alike in cases where customers suffered fatal or severe reactions. Large fines and imprisonment have been given to those who had not appropriately communicated food allergen information.
In light of this, a BBC reporter went undercover as an allergy sufferer for an episode of Watchdog. He was given false or very little allergy information or advice from five major high street chains.
Business Benefits Of Better Allergen Communication
Alongside the legal requirements, there’s a competitive advantage to being allergy aware. Food Standards Authority (FSA) research shows that an estimated 2 million people in the UK suffer from food allergies. This highlights a potentially huge market to businesses.
Crucially, the FSA revealed that 59% of young people will eat in the same outlet, if they have eaten safely before and trust the menu. This data reveals the clear benefits in accurate and clear communication of allergen information to customers. Food (allergen-free) for thought.
Despite the legal requirements, and the possible positive impacts outlined, why are businesses both large or small struggling to communicate allergen info efficiently?
Collating the information and ensuring staff know which products contain allergens could be a massive task. And once you have all the information, how do you communicate it all to customers easily and quickly and ensure the latest allergen data is available?
How Do Modern EPoS Systems Help?
A modern EPoS system should help you manage allergen information across all food ordering technologies whether at the till, self service stations, online ordering or as part of the food and drink preparation.
At the point of sale, operators will be informed and prompted to confirm and be able to remove items containing undesired allergens.
On the TouchPoint till from ICRTouch, the operator can instantly see if a product contains allergens. At the end of the sale, the operator can quickly call up which products contain a problematic allergen, and make amendments or inform the chef.
Customers should also be able to see allergen information appear on the rear media screen of the till when placing their order, so that they have an opportunity to see for themselves and communication is not dependent on the individual clerk serving.
When the order is placed, allergen information will print on the customer receipt, so that they then have the opportunity to find out what is in their food once the sale has gone through.
For packed food items such as sandwiches, food labels can be printed with allergen information on, so that customers can see the allergen information before they put the item in their basket.
In a self service environment, it is especially important to alert customers of allergen information and provide the opportunity for customer-specific instructions.
With the ICRTouch SelfService product, allergen information shows corresponding icons below the product description on the kiosk. Tapping each icon gives a more detailed description of the allergen. The clear and easily identifiable allergen information means that customers don’t have to search elsewhere or ask a member of staff if the item is safe for them to consume.
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