While most U.S. restaurants of a certain kind are used to dealing with customer allergies, establishments across Europe will soon be legally required to notify all customers if menu items contain commonly allergenic ingredients. The BBC reports the European Union's new Food Information to Consumers regulation identifies 14 "everyday allergens" including the obvious (nuts, shellfish, gluten, and milk) and not-so-obvious (sesame seeds, mustard, and celery among them). According to the law, which goes into effect Saturday, restaurant owners and staff will be required to provide customers with allergen information, although the method is left up to businesses' discretion: Diners can be informed either verbally, through labeling on the menu, or a separate pamphlet.
The regulations also apply to food processing companies, many of which argued as recently as last month that labeling requirements were vague. But in its memo to consumers, the EU writes that "the new rules strengthen the existing information on certain substances causing allergic reactions or intolerances. The aim is to inform and better protect the health of people with food allergies." According to the BBC, restaurants that fail to comply could face fines for multiple offenses.