Confusion on the menu as European allergen rule takes effect for restaurants, bakeries

A European rule requiring restaurants, bakeries and cafes — or anyone mass-producing meals — to list any of 14 allergens that might appear on their menus is being met with confusion.

Italy and France, with their strong restaurant and cafe culture, had yet to outline how the rule approved three years ago should be put into effect. With constantly changing menus, cooks in both countries said communication with the customer — not more rules — was key to a good meal.

In Britain, where the food safety agency made prominent mention of the requirement in effect Saturday, some described it as a simple change that would make life immeasurably easier for allergy sufferers.

And in Germany, one restaurant already had its binder ready with menu items and their associated allergens.