The menu stated that we could request an allergen information sheet. A leaflet explaining the Food Information Regulations 2014 (or FIR for short) was swiftly brought to the table.
Since December 13th 2014, this new EU rule insists that caterers provide information on any allergens present in the food they serve. This meal, in a rural Cornish restaurant, was my first experience of the new regulations when eating out during our vacation.
The first part of the booklet appeared to be written for the chef or waiting staff, and explained what allergens should be noted and what effect ingesting them would have on someone with an allergy.
Each item on the menu had to be entered into a table at the back of the booklet. Beside each entry were a number of columns headed with the common allergens. I was interested in the first column - gluten containing ingredients.
Some menu items had a tick or check mark in this column, while others didn’t. After a little confusion we decided that the tick meant that dish was “off the menu” for me.
The confusion lay in the fact that egg, sausage and chips (french fries) was not ticked, indicating it was safe.
Knowing that most sausages are made with either breadcrumbs or rusk, we double checked this entry with the waitress. She went to confirm with the chef, returning to state that as the sausages were made off site they couldn’t guarantee they were gluten free.
She did however, mention, without prompting, that the chips were cooked in a separate fryer and were totally safe.
Taking another look at the menu I discovered Hunters Chicken, described as a chicken breast topped with bacon, cheese and homemade barbecue sauce. With the reassurance that the sauce was made by the chef and definitely gluten free, I decided to go ahead and order the dish.
I have to say my lunch was delicious and I had no ill effects after eating it.