Are You Up To Date With Food Regulations In Your Industry?

Regulations within the foodservice industry can differ quite significantly from sector to sector. Whilst certain new regulations - such as the allergen labelling laws – have been blanketed across the majority of the industry, on the whole rules that apply to one sector aren’t always transferable to another. 

As many of these regulations are mandatory, with caterers having a legal duty to follow them, it’s always good to get a refresher on foodservice guidelines. 

On top of this, you might even find that some guidelines echo consumer trends, meaning they might even help to increase footfall and uptake. To make sure you’re up to scratch, we’ve roughly outlined some of the more recent regulations affecting the education, healthcare, and wider restaurant industries below.

Education

In January 2015, the Department of Education put into place a new set of regulatory standards that apply to free schools, maintained schools, and academies. These replace the nutrition based regulations in force between 2006 and 2009. 

In contrast, the new regulations - officially outlined in the School Food Plan - aim to provide caterers an improved “framework on which to build interesting, creative and nutritionally-balanced menus” as well as hoping to be cheaper for schools to implement. But what exactly are they? Well, we won’t go into areas like exact portion size (which you can find here). Instead, we’ve broken down the new regulations into a few easy to digest points. 

Schools must now provide:

A portion of high quality poultry, meat, or oily fish every day.

At least one portion of vegetables every day, and at least three different portions of vegetables every week.

At least one portion of fruit every day, and at least three different portions of fruit every week.

Bread available every day. 

One or more portions of starchy food every day. 

No more than two portions of deep fried, battered, or breaded food every week. 

As well as aiming to give a simple and unrestrictive set of guidelines for caterers to follow, the new regulations also hope to help increase take-up of school meals. In 2005, take-up had reached a record low of 37%, increasing to 43% in 2013. This is in contrast to the 1970s, where uptake was on average around 70%. The hope is that by focusing on preparing low cost, varied, and nourishing school meals, with the support of food manufacturers with ingredients that satisfy regulations, school caterers can help uptake rise even further in coming years.  

Healthcare

Last year, the Department of Health announced the implementation of legally binding food standards which all NHS hospitals in the UK must follow. Whilst not all of these regulations are specifically in the remit of hospital caterers, we’ve outlined two below that do.

Food served in hospitals must be sourced in a sustainable way that is beneficial for the food industry and also healthy for individuals.

The food offered to both patients and staff needs to comply with government regulations on salt, fats, and sugar.

Alongside these regulations, the Department of Health also rolled out another initiative, which allows patients to rate their experiences of hospital catering, which will then be made publicly available as part of a wider ratings scheme. Patients are invited to review hospital meals based on a number of factors, including the quality of food available, and also the choice and variety of meals on offer. 

These two points run alongside previously available recommendations that apply to care providers and the independent healthcare sector, which simply state that "the nutritional and hydration needs of service users must be met”, based on an assessment of individual needs.

With caterers in hospitals and the wider healthcare sector needing to accommodate for the incredibly varied nutritional, dietary, and cultural needs that all patients and visitors might have, sourcing simple and easy to prepare ingredients that tick as many boxes as possible is a must. 

Products from the McCain Simply range can do just that, offering healthcare caterers nourishing, low cost, and prep economical ingredients that can be used to form the base of a wide variety of regulation satisfying meals.

Restaurants, Pubs and Hotels

One of the biggest changes to the way the foodservice industry operates took place in December 2014, as part of the introduction of the new Food Information to Consumers Regulations. Although focused on wider labelling and packaging information, the new regulations state that all businesses providing catering must now supply a list of potential allergens to customers. This must either be displayed in a prominent place within a premises, or on a printed sheet that can be made available to customers upon asking. The allergen labelling laws don’t just apply to restaurants, pubs, hotels, and cafes either, and caterers across all sectors must now comply.

With the number of people considering free-from foods growing increasingly higher, making sure that you’re able to provide allergen labelling that is clear, comprehensive, and useful is now more important than ever. Not only will you be keeping to the regulations, you’ll also be providing real value to customers with specific requirements who may choose where to eat based on the quality of allergen labelling available. As such, showing that you’re knowledgeable about the ingredients that make up your menu shouldn’t just be viewed as a legal obligation, and could even work to increase footfall.

Want to know how McCain products can help your industry? Get in touch today.