Delivered by Margot Parker on 10 March 2015

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Leading chefs and restaurateurs have hit out at disproportionate EU regulations that are a "bureaucratic nightmare" costing the industry an estimated £200 million a year. New EU regulations regarding allergens are "reducing spontaneity, creativity and innovation" in catering according to signatories of a letter to the Mail on Sunday, published yesterday. The list of signatories ranges from household names to small, family-run restaurants.

The coalition of over 100 restaurateurs, hoteliers and catering professionals supporting the letter includes Great British Menujudge Prue LeithAlbert Roux OBE (Chef & restauranteur), Richard Bradford (Fmr Chairman of the Restaurant Association), Jeremy King (Director, Corbin & King), Mark Hix (Founder, Hix Restaurants), Thomasina Miers (Co-founder, Wahaca) and Luke Johnson (Chairman, Patisserie Valerie).

The EU allergens regulation, the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation 1169/2011, entered into force last December and obliges caterers and restaurant owners to conduct a comprehensive audit of every ingredient present within their dishes, which must then be displayed on menus and packaging. They must display information on 14 allergens including rare allergies such as mustard seeds and Lupin, or face fines of up to £5,000 for any infraction of the rules.

We have arranged the letter,highlighting the EU regulations because they represent a disproportionate burden on the catering industry and reduce choice for customers. Following the publication of todays letter, Business for Britain have written to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, to urge him to do all he can to mitigate the harm these new rules are imposing on business..

Those involved in the industry have told BfB of the problems they face:

Prue Leith said: "These new rules on the labelling of allergens are a bureaucratic nightmare that will inflict significant damage on the catering industry, particularly on smaller business - which must be assessed before any more damage is done."

Luke Johnson, Chairman of Patisserie Valerie, said: "It is vital that those in the restaurant business speak out against these new rules, which are imposing substantial costs on the sector and placing jobs at risk."

Robin Birley, Proprietor of 5 Hertford Street Ltd, said: "I welcome the formation of this new campaign, which raises a crucial issue for the future of the catering industry."

Jackie Hatton-Bell, Co-owner of Cwtch Restaurant, Pembrokeshire, said: "It is needless regulation and a drain on our resources having to evidence allergens that are so insignificant compared to some other allergens we regularly see. I would love to see how this is being implemented in places like France and Italy!"

Thomasina Miers, Co-founder of Wahaca restaurants, said: "It is a total fiasco and in my view is the responsibility of the allergee to ask, no the restaurateurs to list. I had a severe allergy for 6 years so coming at it from both sides of the fence."

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of Business for Britain, said:

"This is a costly overreaction from Brussels using a regulatory sledgehammer to crack a nut. Diners with allergies can and should be able to eat out with allergies, but this has unfairly placed too great a burden on the catering industry which will hurt customers, and in particular small independent businesses. These rules have come straight from the EU with little debate or warning at home. They are unaccountable to diners and businesses across the UK."

The full text of the letter:

"As chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and caterers, we are concerned about the bureaucratic nightmare the recent EU allergen regulations have imposed on our businesses.

And it is not just the cost. They will reduce the spontaneity, creativity and innovation restaurants and others in the industry have enjoyed up until now.

We need real change in the EU as the last thing small, independent businesses like restaurants and cafes need is to be hampered with further regulations and an even longer rulebook. What will the EU commission cook up next?!"


Following the publication of today's letter, Business for Britain have written to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, to urge him to do all he can to mitigate the harm these new rules are imposing on business. The full text of the letter can be read here:

UKIP's  Small Business Spokeswoman, Margot Parker MEP (East Midlands) said:

"This further outbreak of EU silliness illustrates perfectly that multi-national corporations have the financial muscle to change EU legislation through lobbying while smaller businesses, such as restaurant owners, are hampered or penalised by EU hyper-regulation.

"Surely the person with an allergy at a restaurant could ask about the menu rather than EU regulations pushing up admin costs for the business owner and the price for every consumer?  Personally,  I am allergic to EU regulations and that is why I voted against them at every opportunity.  UKIP is a great believer is small businesses and we vote against EU legislation like this at the European Parliament. "








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