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Additives and allergens on the menu

Since 2014, catering establishments have not only had to list additives, but also provide information about allergens in their products. But what is mandatory on the menu? We inform you!

Gedeckter Tisch mit klassisch einfarbiger Speisekarte im Vordergrund

What you must specify and what options you have

Many restaurateurs think very carefully about what should be on the menu and spend a lot of time designing the menu, but forget an important obligation: since 2014, catering establishments must not only specify additives, but also provide information about allergens in their products. But what must be on the menu? And how can long columns of numbers behind individual dishes on the menu be avoided?

Mandatory labeling of additives in food

When creating your menu, you should take into account the indication of additives in the layout. The 1998 revision of the Zusatzstoff-Zulassungsverordnung (ZZulV) (Additive Approval Ordinance) mandates that colorants, preservatives, flavor enhancers, sweeteners and many other additives must be indicated when loose foods are sold. The Federal Center for Nutrition always provides an up-to-date list of the relevant additives. In addition, the Federal Center prescribes what wording the labeling must have: Olives, which get their dark color from the dye E585, must be marked as "blackened" in the menu. If a lemon is served with the schnitzel, indicate on the menu whether it has been "waxed."

  • Mark food & beverages on menus
    So cola, non-alcoholic beer or mango ice cream get a note "with colorant" in your menu. When creating the menu, consider which dishes need to have notes about additives. It's possible to have both a wording label and footnotes that need to be resolved in a legend at the end of the menu. Give some early thought to the additives that may be lurking in potential ingredients. Is there a way to replace these products with fresh produce or ingredients without flavor enhancers? The fewer artificial colors and additives on your menu, the clearer and more appealing it will look.
  • Genetic engineering:
    Recently, the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE) has required labeling of products made from genetic engineering or goods made from genetically modified ingredients. Salad oil and frying oil are particularly at risk here, but so are other products made from soy and corn. If such modified products are used, this must also be indicated on the menu.
Our tip

Since the label must be clearly visible, legible and indelible on the menu, we advise menu covers, which protect the paper of the card from moisture and dirt.

Mandatory oral information of allergens and problematic foods

More and more people suffer from allergies and food intolerances. For this reason, the Food Information Regulation (LMIV) ensures the safe choice of food and foodstuffs for all consumers. Ingredients that have been scientifically proven to trigger allergies or intolerances include nuts, cereals, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, milk and celery. The Federal Center for Nutrition continually updates the list of allergenic foods.

Our tip

Guests often only tolerate a certain type of food: label the ingredients as precisely as possible so that a walnut allergy sufferer does not have to exclude all dishes that are marked "contains nuts" on your menu.

Voluntary labeling of special preparation forms and ingredients

Klemmbretter mit Lederschlaufe als Speisekarten

Have you reviewed your menu and labeled all additives, allergens and possible triggers for intolerances? Would you also like to draw your customers' attention to vegan dishes and thus create a selection for guests who completely forgo animal protein? Do you source your meat from a regional butcher? Or do you pay special attention to organic cultivation and fair trade when purchasing exotic ingredients? These details enrich your menu and sharpen your profile as a restaurateur. However, displaying official seals involves some effort and bureaucracy. It is easier to design and structure your menu so that special ingredients and preparation methods are noticed separately. A separate category "Vegan Cuisine" in your menu shows your vegan guests at a glance from which dishes they can choose. A short paragraph on the origin of the meat before the list of beef dishes informs your guests about the quality of your cuisine.

  • Green V as a mark of vegan restaurants
    You are certainly familiar with the V-label from health food stores, because it identifies products as vegan or vegetarian. Restaurants can also advertise with this seal, but must meet high requirements. Following an application to use the seal of approval, in which you must prove that your establishment does not use animal ingredients, animal auxiliary materials or genetic engineering, you can expect unannounced inspections. Your staff may need to be trained to help guests with questions.
  • Bioland seal for labeling ingredients from organic farming
    Food service establishments that want to show their regional connection and reliance on organic agriculture can apply to Bioland GmbH to use the Bioland seal. If you would like to use this seal, the verification of accounting, menu design and food processing will come to your business.
  • TransFair seal for fair trade products
    The Fairtrade seal from Transfair e.V. also adorns many products in health food stores, One World stores and organic supermarkets. In order to be allowed to use this seal on your menu, you must follow precise guidelines for the use of the logo. You can find out the exact statutes on the website of the Transfair organization. The basic condition, however, is that you use products that already bear the Fairtrade Germany seal.