06 February 2024, by Emily Proctor

52 percent of Dutch restaurants have been found to have mislabelled or not included information related to allergens such as nuts, gluten and dairy on their menus. Research undertaken by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, as reported by the AD, found that allergen information about products served by businesses is not clearly stated or is simply missing from the menus of many restaurants.

Allergen information not clearly displayed in many Dutch eateries

In eateries such as restaurants, bars and ice-cream parlours, businesses are legally required to provide information relating to potential allergens contained within their food. Some of the most common food allergens around the world include products such as milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybeans and sesame. 

For people who are allergic to such substances, the labelling of potentially deadly allergens in food or the potential for trace amounts of these substances can mean the difference between life and death. “About half a million Dutch people have a food allergy. They can become seriously ill and, in the worst case, even die from eating gluten, nuts, or shellfish, for example. Even if it is only a very small quantity,” the Dutch Food Safety Authority (NVWA), based in Utrecht, said. 

Experts are concerned about the report’s findings

Erna Botjes, chair of the Food Allergy patient organisation, told the AD: “Many restaurants should be ashamed. You should also have somewhere to eat if you are on a special diet. You can organise your business accordingly, but you have to train [staff to understand] it. The legislation and regulations must also be better known.”

Botjes added that large corporations such as McDonald’s have a clearer approach to notifying consumers about allergens, given that they have strict protocols in place to inform diners. “It’s even on the place mats there. But you can’t go to a cafe with constantly changing chefs […] You can’t expect everyone to be aware of everything.”

Thumb image credit: Hung Chung Chih / Shutterstock.com

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