The Education Authority School Catering Service currently provides for special dietary requirements that have been medically prescribed, including pupils who have allergies, for religious or cultural reasons, or because a pupil is vegetarian or vegan.
To guarantee the safeguarding of pupils with allergies, or any other special dietary requirement, it is vital that the service works in partnership, sharing joint responsibility between pupil, parent/guardian and the school to provide as far as possible a nutritionally balanced meal that meets any special dietary requirements of the pupil.
In advance of further detailed guidance on special dietary requirements, the EA has devised a basic summary guidance that will support schools in their decision-making in relation to special dietary requirements of pupils.
EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (No. 1169/2011)
The Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 makes it a legal responsibility for food business operators to provide the correct allergen information about the ingredients that are in the food they make or serve to customers. It has been set to provide customers with easily accessible information about the food and drink that they buy to help them make informed safe choices. This EU law has listed 14 allergens that need to be identified if they are used as ingredients in a dish. The 14 allergens are: Cereals containing gluten, Peanuts, Nuts, Milk, Soya, Mustard, Lupin, Eggs, Fish, Crustaceans, Molluscs, Sesame seeds, Celery and Sulphur dioxide.
The School Catering Service provides allergen information verbally, as part of a discussion with a parent or a member of school staff.
For this approach, all dining rooms are also required to have a notice (allergy poster) clearly on display in the dining room which states that allergy information is available from the staff. Catering staff are trained to refer any questions regarding an allergy to the catering supervisor.
The School Catering Service has also taken a number of actions in response to the Food Information for Consumer’s Regulation.
- Ensuring catering staff are trained and kept informed regarding allergens
- Ensuring catering staff provide information for customers through posters, menus, tariffs, and when providing samples and hospitality
- Ensuring safefood ‘Food Allergy and Intolerance’ posters are displayed in the kitchen
- Ensuring allergen identification information is completed and maintained
- Ensuring effective allergen management during purchasing and delivery, food storage/segregation, preparation and production, food service and cleaning