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Restaurant menus should indicate the contents of allergens

As of December 2014, when European Parliament and Council Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers entered into force, all member states that are signatory of this regulation, including Spain, are bound by the rules set forth in it to enhance consumer health and safety. Basically, we can say that Regulation 1169/2014 established the general principals and requirements which regulate food information and more specifically, the labeling of products with the corresponding information related to allergens.

Nonetheless, although Regulations, as opposed to Directives, have a direct effect, Spain has not complied with the obligations mentioned in the European Regulation 1169/2011 until the publication and entrance into force of Royal Decree 126/2015 on consumer information related to food presented without packaging or labeling and food packaged and labeled upon consumer request.

In relation to its application, this Royal Decree regulates all the companies that deal with food as well as the information related to all food products to be provided to final consumers.

More specifically with respect to allergens, we may highlight that article 21 of the Regulation, as well as Annex II mention the fourteen substances, which are considered food allergens. These include gluten or lactose. In this sense, the purpose of the Royal Decree is to ensure that consumers have detailed information about the substances contained in their food, in order to avoid any health issues caused by allergies or food intolerance.

Despite the fact that packaged products include a list of ingredients, until this Regulation entered into force, the final consumer of a product in a restaurant or a bar did not know or was not shown the detailed list of ingredients or substances included. Lack of knowledge on the clients´ side has caused grave intolerances to clients who were never able to imagine that their food, for example, had traces of nuts, soy or egg. The aim of this Regulation is precisely to fight against this and to be totally transparent about food allergens.

Restaurants and bars must adapt their menus to the current situation

In Spain, all bars and restaurants that serve food must provide their clients with a menu in which possible food allergens are identified in writing. In order to accomplish this, drafting a menu with all the ingredients of each dish is not enough and companies dealing with food must provide their employees with specific knowledge about food allergens. In order to implement this, the workers may attend certain courses through official methods and schools which are currently being paid for by the Social Security system.

Should you have any specific queries about this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us. At Lexland, we are here to help.