A Scottish food technology startup has welcomed a series of tough recommendations from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which has urged the Government to adopt strict new rules highlighting major allergens.
The growing issue of food allergies permeated the airwaves following the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse after she ate a Pret a Manger sandwich that did not clearly list ingredients.
A high-profile inquest subsequently questioned the lack of appropriate labelling in food outlets across the country. Ednan-Laperouse’s death prompted the FSA review and last week’s recommendations. Heather Hancock, FSA chairwoman, described it as a “life-threatening issue for a proportion of the population”, however she conceded that new rules could place a burden on food businesses.
Bhas Kalangi, founder of Edinburgh-based startup ePos Hybrid, believes that technology could hold the solution for business across the country seeking to adhere to potential new regulations. Kalangi said one of the main reasons ePos Hybrid has developed its software was to help outlets cope with tracking and labelling dishes and ingredients for food allergies.
“The FSA is absolutely right to highlight the problems that allergen labelling poses for food businesses,” Khalangi insisted. “The time, cost and difficulty of tracking and listing allergens during food preparation were some of the main issues that came up repeatedly when I was carrying out my own research of restaurants and takeaways.
“As a result, businesses are repeatedly failing to do this. For most of them, it is simply too complex a problem to track and keep on top of.”
Epos Hybrid’s platform enables restaurants and other food outlets to automate aspects of their operations, from stock management to staff training and rotas. However, once implemented, it can help businesses update allergy information across menus, websites and ordering systems.
Kalangi suggests that businesses should embrace technology to ensure both legal compliance and to improve customer confidence; insisting that “it is very quick and easy to add allergen information” to systems such as the one developed by ePos Hybrid.
“The information is copied across every outlet where our system is used on and websites, tablets, digital menus, checkouts and any digital app,” Kalangi explained. “Staff has the information easily to hand, while customers can choose dishes with confidence – and crucially, the businesses are legally compliant.”