Six keys to understanding the new Spanish Food (Allergen)

The number of people suffering from food allergies have doubled in the last fifteen years to a point where more than 10% of the population states they have some type of intolerance. In order to ensure their safety and rights, the new allergen law, which is provided for in European Regulation 1169/2011, establishes that all food business operators at all stages of the food chain must report the allergens contained in their dishes.

So, how must this be done? From what date? Who is required to do so? Which allergens must be declared and what happens if you don't do it? The law is extensive but it can be explained with six key points:

1. What is the objective of the new allergens act? 

To provide information on dishes with allergens so everyone may know whether they can eat it or not without having to identify themselves or ask for special treatment.


2. Who must comply with the law? 

One of the main new developments of this regulation is that it includes non-packages foods offered by food business operators: restaurants, bars, catering services, public dining halls (schools, hospitals...) and vending machines.


3. When does it enter into force?

Although it can already be done, article 55 of the Regulation states that 13 December 2014 is the deadline.

4. Which allergens must be reported? 

The Regulation establishes as mandatory "information on any ingredient that causes allergies or intolerances that is used in the production or preparation of the food and continues to be present in the finished product even if in modified form". For easier application, it offers a list of substances that cause allergic reactions which must be clearly indicated even when only traces of these substances may have been filtered into the finished product. The regulation includes 14 substances that cause allergic reactions such as milk, fish and gluten and other less-known substances such as celery, sesame and sulfite.

5. How can it be done?

The European regulation makes it mandatory to report the presence of allergens.The best option is in writing and on the menu (here are several ideas on how to report allergens to your customers).


6. What happens if you do not comply with the new Allergen Act?

If a customer or end consumer suffers an allergic reaction or intolerance, the restaurant will be held liable under the new law. The sanctions range fromfines to criminal liability.