A lady looking at the FSS online allergen training homepage on a laptop

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Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has launched an Advanced Online Allergen Training programme to help businesses manage allergens.

Available via the FSS website, the free-to-use tool aims to give businesses and their staff a better understanding of food hypersensitivities. It will also help firms get to grips with the legal requirements for providing ingredient and allergen information to consumers.

The ’interactive and easily-digestible’ FSS training can be completed in around two hours. A presenter takes the user through five video sections, which can be paused and resumed at any time.

Sections include food allergies explained, rules and regulations, providing allergen information, allergen management, and your responsibility as a food business. They address a range of topics including what it is like to live with a food allergy, food labelling laws in Scotland, and the potential consequences when things go wrong.

“This advanced allergen training builds on our existing FSS Online Allergy Training by providing food businesses with a more detailed and in-depth look into allergen management within catering environments,” said FSS enforcement delivery project manager Abigail Purkis.

Non-compliance with allergen management can have serious and sometimes fatal consequences due to the severity of the risks associated, noted Purkis.

“It is therefore extremely important that food businesses and their staff understand how to manage allergens within their business. This training tool can help businesses to achieve this, ensuring they are providing a safe environment for their customers in terms of food allergies and intolerances,” she added.

A validated Certificate of Achievement from the FSS will be given to all users achieving a pass mark of 80% or higher in the final test, which can be added to their training records.

Cheryl Graham, environmental health officer at Renfrewshire Council, described the online tool as a “comprehensive resource that gave clear and concise information to businesses”.

The videos appeal to people with different learning styles, commented Graham. “I particularly liked the section covering Megan’s story as it explained so clearly the human aspect of businesses failing on their legal obligation.”

The tool was originally developed by the Greater Gwent Food Group, the FSA, and Trading Standards Wales, before being adapted for use by Scotland’s food authority. Its launch coincides with Coeliac UK Awareness Week from 15 to 21 May, and follows last month’s Allergy Awareness Week campaign.

The Health Ministry is under pressure from the public to make changes to its policies on food labelling and support for people with allergies, with two petitions debated in parliament yesterday (15 May). The first stated the urgent need to appoint an Allergy Tsar to act as a champion for the one in three people in the UK living with allergies. The second petition on Owen’s Law asked for a change in the law around labelling in UK restaurants.