Leading independent contract catering provider, Olive Catering Services, has joined forces with over 100 top chefs and restaurateurs by signing a letter sent to the Daily Telegraph, which condemns the introduction of new EU rules that force all catering outlets to identify dishes that contain specific allergens.
As the only contract caterer to have signed the letter, Olive has criticised what it refers to as “the bureaucratic nightmare of the recent EU allergen regulations have imposed on our businesses”.
Sally-Ann Bradley, co-founder of Olive Catering Services and one of the letter’s signatories, commented: “Like countless other catering organisations, we were issued with a printed document stating the 14 allergens and the need to communicate these to our customers, but these came without any offer of support, and very little guidance on it should be implemented.
“The biggest issue with the new requirements is that they significantly stifle the creativity of a chef in those businesses, such as ours, where menus do not simply derive from a set recipe card. We’re now encountering instances where chefs are having to put the taste preferences of their customers to one side, in favour of ensuring the dish only contains the ingredients their pre-prepared label states.
“Within our business, one of the traits we are most proud of is that we grant chefs in different regions the freedom to adapt dishes in line with their customers’ preferences. Our reluctance to prescribe set recipes and set ingredients means we can offer dishes our customers want, made with locally-sourced ingredients and incorporating the regional tastes and flavours we know they enjoy.
Sally-Ann continues: “It goes without saying that we encounter many customers who have strict dietary requirements ranging from lactose intolerance to gluten free, but customers with allergies will approach us to ask which dishes are suitable for them. We don’t necessarily believe that just because we’re labelling our dishes, customers will automatically know which dishes are safe for them to eat as we fully expect they’ll continue to double-check with the team member.
“The EU requirements have also incurred huge costs to our business. We’ve had to host training courses for every team member in every one of our restaurants to ensure the new systems are introduced. In addition, we’ve have had to produce new stationery and we’ve had to overhaul our labelling system. All this in spite of the fact there was nothing to say the change was ever needed.”
For more information about Olive Catering Services, visit www.olive-catering.com or call 01827 711717.