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How technology can help hospitality businesses manage allergens

Samantha Weller
02 Nov 2021 3min read

Natasha’s Law is in full force after coming into effect on the 1st of October 2021, helping to protect those with allergies when purchasing PPDS (prepacked for direct sale) food.

This has raised discussion around the food laws currently in place for hospitality businesses that do not sell pre-packaged food on-site. How are restaurants and other eateries communicating clear allergen information to their customers, and how can technology help?

Currently, hospitality venues that prepare food on-site for customers, must state if the food and drink being sold contains any of the 14 most common allergens in writing. This is often displayed on hard copy menus which can become outdated when recipes change and will therefore require continued re-prints.

Similarly, when it comes to managing allergen information, many operators are still manually updating spreadsheets or using a stock system that doesn’t integrate with other platforms, which can result in inefficiencies and reduced customer transparency.

It doesn’t need to be complicated for customers or operators. With connected technology in place, managing and communicating accurate allergen information can be easy and efficient. Here’s how.

Build easy to manage allergen profiles

allergen system

Modern hospitality stock and recipe engineering systems contain allergen and dietary profiling features to help F&B teams create and manage up-to-date allergen profiles against menu items.

Kobas approaches this in the following ways:
  • Build recipes from allergen-assigned ingredients, all from one system – Kobas Cloud. From here, the system will use that information to automatically build an item’s allergen profile. Need to change an ingredient within an item’s recipe, or add another? The allergen profile will be updated accordingly.
  • Assign vital precautionary labels against menu items such as contains, may contain and traces of, alongside dietary labels including gluten-free, halal, kosher, vegetarian, vegan, alcohol free and many others.
  • Say goodbye to manually updating spreadsheets. Allergen profiles are stored in the cloud, making it easier than ever to access and manage information.

Automate allergen profiles with your customer-facing technology

Building allergen profiles within your system is just part of the picture. The next important step is getting that information in front of your customers to provide complete allergen transparency.

When using a connected hospitality system, allergen information is seamlessly synced from your recipes in the cloud and straight to your customer-facing applications.

Our approach:
  • Allergen profiles are automatically synced from Kobas Cloud to the Kobas online ordering applications. When customers browse through a menu via the mobile ordering app (including to table, delivery or click & collect), they can learn more about an item’s allergen profile within the dedicated allergens and dietary tab.
  • Product modifiers (PISCs) are built from allergen-assigned ingredients too. If the allergen status of a dish changes when a specific option is selected, this will be stated clearly within the allergens and dietary tab.
  • Your customer-facing apps also feature an allergen identifier tool. When using this, customers can select their specific allergens and/or dietary requirements and view a colour coordinated menu, helping to identify items that are safe for them.
  • Not utilising any online ordering apps? No problem. The allergen identifier can also be used by staff on tablet and mobile devices, ready to provide accurate allergen information to guests, on the spot without the need to check printed sheets or packaging.
  • When saving a recipe in Kobas Cloud, the system will recognise if no allergens have been assigned and prompt the user to take action by selecting one of the following options:
  1. Confirm the item has no allergens – if this option is selected, a notice will appear in the online ordering app with “this item is allergen-free”.
  2. Add allergens later – if this option is selected, a notice will appear in the online ordering apps with “please ask our staff about allergens for this item”.
  3. Cancel – if this option is selected, the item will not be saved and the member of staff can check over the allergen profile.

The existing food laws in place for restaurants and other eateries outline what businesses must do to provide allergen information to customers, but it is left in the hands of operators to implement effective communication channels to keep that information up-to-date and accurate. Doing this is crucial as unreliable processes can result in human error and miscommunication, putting visitors with allergies at risk with potentially harmful consequences.

With the help of intuitive technologies that are equipped with allergen-specific features, businesses can significantly streamline management processes whilst reducing the risk for customers with allergies, keeping them well informed with reliable, up-to-date and easy to access information.

More about Natasha’s Law and how it could impact your business

In the UK, it is estimated that 1-2% of adults and 3-8% of children are known to have a food allergy (excluding food intolerances). That is around 2 million people in the UK at risk when visiting an F&B venue.

The introduction of Natasha’s Law offers increased protection for customers when purchasing PPDS (prepacked for direct sales) food, which should display the ingredients list on the packaging with allergenic information emphasised.

To learn more about allergen laws, please see official resources including the below:

Allergen labelling changes for PPDS food:

Information for fast food and takeaways:

Information for restaurants, cafes and pubs:

Free allergen training for businesses:

Want to discover how Kobas can add value to your business?

Speak with a member of our team to experience our complete hospitality system in action.

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