Costs mount with UK’s pre-packaged food allergen laws

A recent article by The Financial Times states that UK sandwich chain Pret A Manger spent £20m (approx. AUD$40m) last year on full allergen labelling and other safety measures ahead of new laws for pre-packaged food for direct sale, introduced following the deaths of two people who had eaten Pret A Manger products. According to the article, the sandwich chain expects £10m-a-year of ongoing costs from the changes.

The Chief Executive of Pret A Manger, Pano Christou, was quoted: “We are not going to pass on all of the costs, but we have had to pass on some . . . We have had to slow the business down to handle the change. It is the biggest operational change we have carried out in 30 years.”

Among other measures reported to have been taken are reformulations that have seen allergens removed from 114 products, such as hazelnuts from its chocolate croissants. The company has also “reorganised kitchens, retrained staff and introduced new ingredient checks”. It plans to bring in similar measures in its 171 overseas branches, in addition to independent quality and allergen audits of suppliers.

To gain further insights into how Pret A Manger and similar outlets have responded to the new allergen labelling requirements, see the Financial Times article.