The Reply: 100 top chefs write to The Daily Telegraph about allergens. 1

By the time I publish this post, this story will have made it to more of the mainstream media outlets. The article headline on the front page of today’s Daily Telegraph reads:

Top chefs left steaming by EU allergy law.

It carries further weight by adding that the two headline signatories to this letter are Albert Roux (who the paper kindly reminds the reader is the brother of Michel) & Prue Leith, and reads as follows:

SIR – As chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and caterers, we are concerned about the bureaucratic nightmare the recent EU allergen regulations have imposed on our businesses.

It is not just the cost. The regulations will reduce the spontaneity, creativity and innovation that restaurants and others in the industry have enjoyed up to now.

We need real change in the EU, as the last thing that small, independent businesses such as restaurants and cafes need is to be hampered with further regulations and an even longer rulebook. What will the EU commission cook up next?

The Daily Telegraph then tries to go on to reinforce their cause by saying:

The EU allergens regulations came into force in December and require caterers and restaurant owners to conduct a comprehensive audit of every ingredient in their dishes, which then must be displayed on menus and packaging.

The reply to the ‘100 top chefs.

Dear ‘100 top chefs’,

Get over yourselves.

Firstly, I’ve scanned the list of 100 top chefs who are signatories to this letter, and how many of them are Michelin starred, for example?

None, not one out of 100. In fact those that are at the cut edge of culinary creativity in the UK are suspiciously missing.

  • Sat Bains
  • Daniel Clifford
  • Tom Kerridge
  • Heston Blumenthal
  • Ashley Palmer-Watts
  • Brett Graham
  • Michael Caines
  • Andrew Fairlie
  • Claire Smyth
  • Simon Rogan

etc, and so the list goes on. In fact the list of ‘100 top chefs’ who signed the letter only really contains a handful of barely recognisable names:

  • Skye Gingell (has a new restaurant, used to have a Michelin star but resigned due to the pressure)
  • Mark Hix (restaurateur & food writer)
  • Jeremy King (Corbin & King)
  • Prue Leith (restaurateur & TV presenter on Great British Menu)
  • Albert Roux (consultant for Andy Murray’s hotel’s food offering)
  • Thomasina Miers (won Masterchef, now has a chain of Mexican restaurants)

Secondly, the Daily Telegraph incorrectly stipulates that allergen information ‘which then must be displayed on menus‘. It doesn’t, infact nowhere in the EU does allergen information be required to be displayed on menus. What is required in the UK is; if a customer asks about allergens then the establishment must give a consistent & correct feedback to the customer, which may take the shape of a verbal reply. For due diligence purposes the establishment should be able to provide records of steps taken to list allergens which appear in their dishes. On mainland Europe, if a customer asks for the same information, they must be supplied it in written form.

It isn’t like this legislation came out of the blue on December 13th last year, it was at least two years in the pipeline before it became active.

If these so called ‘top 100 chefs’ want to do something to make a difference, how about they all pledge to pay the living wage, or reduce hours within the industry. Lead from the front on issues which can really effect those at the lower end of the pay scale, and really make a difference. Because at the minute, all this letter demonstrates is that you’re in it for yourselves, bleating woe is me.

So I repeat, get over yourselves. The rules are there for the safety and comfort of those who frequent your establishments, & if they’re an inconvenience then so be it. That is what hospitality is all about, looking after the guest, something you’ve clearly forgotten.

The Daily Telegraph letter in full: Daily Telegraph website

Facts about allergens from the FSA:

allergen infographic


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One thought on “The Reply: 100 top chefs write to The Daily Telegraph about allergens.

  • ruthholroyd

    I was heartened to read your very well written and completely accurate reply to the 100 top chefs as most blogs have been from the allergy community. It’s great to hear that the catering industry are also in the know. Though who are these top chefs? I don’t see any top chefs on the list either. I have blogged too about this and really don’t know what they hope to achieve? apart from annoying a lot of people and making it even harder for those with real allergies to get a simple safe meal. They haven’t even read or understood the regulations as really, they could just do the bare minimum and communicate verbally. I would worry if a chef didn’t know what was in the food he cooked – he should be proud of the ingredients and be happy to share, and in my experience most chefs are more than happy to help. No one wants a diner to have a rubbish meal or worse, to be made ill. Thanks for the blog and keep on sharing. I feel they won’t listen to us mere allergy mortals but they might just listen to you.