53% of care homes have found the recent changes in allergen laws a challenge to implement, a recent survey by the UK’s leading food service buying consultancy has found, leading to significant changes in the way they operate.

The survey, conducted by Acquire Services Limited, revealed that more than half of care homes surveyed have made operational changes – such as updating care homes policies and procedures, implementing training to staff and re-working menus – following the introduction of the new food allergen laws in December 2014.

Ed Bevan of Acquire says: “Following the recent changes to allergen laws, care home caterer’s need to be aware of 14 allergens and while some are obvious, such as eggs, milk and fish, many allergens are hidden where you may least expect them.  This means caterers need to be familiar with the constituents of every ingredient used in the kitchen.

“Not only this but care homes need to be able to provide detailed information about all meals served to residents (and their families) upon request – creating a whole host of additional paper work.  Many care homes, particularly smaller independent ones who have leaner staff numbers, have struggled to find the time for these changes.  Extra staff may need to be recruited or current staff may need to be re-directed so they can manage the admin, as opposed to focusing on front-line services.”

There are many services which have been developed to help the care and hospitality industry navigate the new allergen laws.  For example, Acquire’s epsys e-trading platform, which helps streamline the efficiency of the buying process.

Already adopted by some of the country’s top health care providers, epsys tracks and is capable of assigning over 25,000,000 current attributes to a product or dish – making identifying dishes which are allergen friendly simple and easy for care homes and allowing staff to focus on providing a better eating experience.  

Bevan continues; “It’s about care homes working with a buying partner who truly understands their buying dilemmas.  There are numerous other benefits that can be gained from buying via an online portal.  Using e-platforms not only helps caterers buy more efficiently through improving business process but also centralises transactions so they can be easily tracked and monitored, streamlining the buying process.  They can also effectively cost recipes, improve green credentials and save time and money.”