Sodexo is to sponsor the new FreeFrom Eating Out Awards – launched to coincide with EU regulations coming into force in December 2014.

The regulations will require all food service outlets to provide accurate information about any of the 14 major allergens in the food that they serve.

Wan Mak, head of nutrition and dietectics at Sodexo, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring these awards and we hope that it will raise awareness of the importance of providing information for people with allergies.

“With the new regulations coming into force at the end of the year, our customers with special dietary requirements will be able to make more informed decisions about what they eat. We feed over a million customers a year and believe that it is essential that they can choose their food with confidence.”

FreeFrom food  – food free of gluten, wheat, dairy, soya, nuts and other allergens – has become seriously big business in the retail sector with the market set to grow to over half a billion pounds in the next three years.

But, the rapidly growing number of those who either need or choose to eat ‘freefrom’ have long complained that, while good freefrom food is now relatively easy to find in the retail sector, eating out ‘freefrom’ remains difficult and frustrating. This is partly due to the lack of choice but mainly because so few people in the food service industry understand about food allergy and coeliac disease.

A recent survey* suggests that less than 20% of those eating ‘freefrom’ would trust a wait-person in a food service outlet to give them accurate information about allergens in the food they are serving and that, as a result, these people eat out four times less frequently than those not on ‘freefrom’ diets. Coeliac UK estimate that the as yet untapped gluten-free food service market alone is worth around £100 million.

FreeFrom Eating Out Awards

The FreeFrom Eating Out Awards, under the patronage of celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson, will be open both to the corporate and the not-for-profit sector.

The awards will seek out innovation, expertise and engagement with ‘freefrom’ in every outlet from schools and hospitals to three star Michelin restaurants  – thereby driving, as have the FreeFrom Food Awards in the retail sector, excellence and innovation in ‘freefrom’ throughout the food service world.

The awards will open for entry on the 27 May and close on the 25 July. 

A shortlist will be published in mid September.

The presentations will take place on 19 November at the FoodMatters Live Event at Excel. 

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