Hot beverage vending machines under investigation for allergen risks

Between April and September 2020, a local council in Wales, UK, conducted an investigation into businesses selling hot drinks dispensed from vending machines due to allegations of cross-contact allergen risks.

The investigators claim to have found five out of the ten businesses involved did not provide the required allergen information, with four of these not providing any allergen information at all. They also found milk was present in some products that did not contain milk as an intended ingredient.

Of the businesses that did provide allergen information, investigators claim that it was either incorrect, inadequate or difficult to find. In the case of information that was provided verbally, staff could not confidently confirm the correct allergen status of the products.

Vending machines are governed by foodservice industry regulations and standards around allergen labelling. Accurate and consistent allergen information must be provided for consumers to ensure they are able to make safe choices.

A 13-page report into the investigation provides detailed examples of each scenario. The report also references the Allergen Bureau’s 2019 VITAL Scientific Expert Panel recommendations with respect to thresholds (Reference Doses) for providing precautionary allergen labelling.