Restaurants and takeaways are being encouraged to improve the way they cater for customers with allergies through new training from North Yorkshire’s trading standards service.

Banyan Tree staffs with their certificates after completing the training

Our trading standards team includes officers who are professionals in food labelling and allergen awareness. They are offering advice and staff training to protect consumers and businesses from the tragic consequences of failing to fully understand allergens.

County Councillor Andrew Lee, Executive Member for Trading Standards, said: “This is an issue that can’t be ignored. There have been tragic instances of fatal allergic reactions to ingredients in meals, for example the 15-year-old girl who died after suffering a reaction to sesame seeds on a Pret a Manger baguette and, in North Yorkshire, a man who died in 2014 after suffering anaphylactic shock after eating a takeaway containing peanuts.

“As more and more people live with allergies, we want to help restaurants, takeaways and shops to avoid any instance of a customer suffering an allergic reaction, no matter how minor. Many businesses don’t know enough about catering for everybody’s requirements. That’s why our trading standards team is offering this preventative training that is designed to bring them fully up to speed. This is training that can save lives.”

The training can be tailored to a business’s specific needs, will be carried out at the business’s location and is provided by experienced food officers. The training package includes topics such as knowing different allergens and the possible reactions, identifying allergens in the business, controlling cross contamination, how best to take orders and relevant legislation.

One of the first businesses to complete the training was the Banyan Tree at Easingwold. Owner Saleha Begum said: “We did the training as I felt it would be beneficial to myself, my employees and our customers. The course was very informative and taught us a lot, from information about our legal requirements, the owner’s and staff’s responsibilities and how we can reduce cross contamination. This is very important to us at The Banyan Tree, as protecting our customers is our number one priority.”

There is a charge for the training, depending on the number of people taking it. Businesses can learn more by emailing business.advice@northyorks.gov.uk.

This story was published 18 January 2019