On the 13th December 2014 new EU legislation is coming into place that means all food businesses (including childminders) need to provide information about the allergenic ingredients in food. I know that some childminders are thinking about stopping providing food and asking parents to send it in as they are worried or confused by this new legislation but it isn’t as scary as you might think. I hope this food allergen information for childminders post will help some of you.

The Foods Standard Agency (FSA) have stated on their website that this new legislation does apply to childminders:

“From 13 December 2014, all food businesses including childminders will need to provide allergen information on the foods they sell or provide”
and
“As a childminder, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have allergen information to provide for the food you serve and that this is accurate, consistent and verifiable.”
(Read full article here)

They also posted the following FaceBook status and answered some questions in the comments:

“Are you a childminder who is worried about the new rules around allergen information, that beds in, in December? The good news is that childminders are probably already doing a large majority of what is required of them in the new EU Food Information Regulation! As a childminder, you will need to make available information about any of the 14 major allergens used as ingredients in the food/meals you provide”. (read the full post here)

Think Allergen

The best place to start is the ‘Allergen information for loose foods‘ document available to download from the Foods Standard Agency (FSA) website.

Most importanly for childminders to note is we do not have to write down every single ingredient in every single meal and snack we serve. We do have to make the information available to parents on which allergens are in the food we serve. This can be through written menus with allergen information incorporated into them but it is also enough to tell parents verbally if they request the information. As long as you have signposted where parents can get information such as a poster or an email saying “please ask me if you wish to know the allergens in the food I serve” then then you are still compiling with the new legislation. We need to keep all food receipts for 3 months so this will make it easier to see what ingridients are in the food you provide if you prepare meals for your children. Page 9 of the booklet has further information about how to provide allergen information.

A list of the 14 allergens are available on this 1 page poster from the FSA website.

It is now both the responsibility of the parent and childminders to ensure we know if children we care for have any allergies. Childminders already have a lot of paperwork to do so my aim is not to create more unnecessary work for myself, therefore I have done the below in preparation for the new legislation:

  • Completed the FSA online food allergen training course which is available for free and counts towards 3 hours of your CPD.
  • Downloaded a copy of the 14 allergens list from the FSA website and displayed on my notice board with a note to parents to ask me if they require more information.
  • Emailed parents informing them of the new legislation and asking them to let me know if they require ingredients lists as well as attaching the 14 allergens document.

I don’t plan meals and snacks in advance so pre-written menus listing allergenic ingredients would not work in my setting. I find it easier to go with the flow and helping children to make healthy choices when it comes to food by giving them a choice on the day or at the beginning of the week.

Useful links and downloads

Allergen Information for Loose Foods – information booklet from the FSA

Advice on Food Allergen Labelling – a guide to buying food safely from FSA PDF website. Useful if you care for a child as food intolerance or allergy or has coeliac disease.

Food Allergen training – free online course from the FSA with a printable certificate. Counts towards 3 hours of your CPD.

Food allergy chefs cards – useful cards that can be filled out and given staff when eating out if you care for a child with allergens.

14 Allergens List  – a 1 page poster that can be displayed in your setting.

Think Allergen Poster – another useful 1 page poster that can be displayed in your setting.

Safer food, better business for childminders – full document from the FSA.

Lots more resources for allergens on the FSA website here.

 

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