Clean Eating Made Easy, in Europe

One of my favorite things about dining while traveling in the EU is how simple it is, not only to eat well in terms of ordering veggies and protein, but to be able to identify without a doubt whether or not a meal or packaged food has anything sneaky hidden in it.

While it’s easy to tell the something obvious has gluten in it, such as a sandwich, or that stir fry from a fast food Chinese place is likely to contain soy, it’s often not the case when you order a dish off the menu…that’s written in a native tongue.

And unless you’re fluent in the language which is spoke in the country you happen to be in at the moment, you can find yourself in a real pickle trying to communicate to your server that you’d like the beef entree but is there any flour in the sauce?  Or that you’d like to ask the chef to please give you some of the steamed broccoli that is meant to accompany the wild, Scottish Salmon instead of the dumplings that are listed to be paired with the breaded chicken.

Gosh, that’s enough to make even my head spin, and I’m the one placing the order.

As such, I can’t even begin to express how fantastic it’s been to see, across the board wherever we’ve been dining whilst in Austria, the list of the 14 allergens that are on the regulatory list are to be emphasized on the label of a pre-packaged food if they are used as ingredients. 

This piece of European legislation is called the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) and came into force on 13 December 2014 and changes the way allergen information appears on labels and on food that is pre-packed, sold loose or served when you are eating outside of the home.

The EU FIC brings general and nutrition labelling together into a single regulation to simplify and consolidate existing labelling legislation1.

The 14 allergens are:

  1. eggs
  2. milk
  3. fish
  4. crustaceans (for example crab, lobster, crayfish, shrimp, prawn)
  5. molluscs (for example mussels, oysters, squid)
  6. peanuts
  7. tree nuts (namely almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, brazils, pistachios, macadamia nuts Queensland nuts)
  8. sesame seeds
  9. cereals containing gluten (namely wheat (such as spelt, Khorasan wheat/Kamut), rye, barley, oats, or their hybridised strains).
  10. soya
  11. celery and celeriac
  12. mustard
  13. lupin
  14. sulphur dioxide and sulphites (at concentration of more than ten parts per million)

How easy is that?

At home in LA, it’s not at all uncommon to see V to demonstrate that a menu item is vegan, or GF for gluten free…so why not have this across the board as a standard?

It’s not even asking anyone to change anything that exists as it is on their menu; rather, just to label what a given menu item has, if for nothing else than awareness.

Awareness both for those who have an allergy or an intolerance, but also for those who may not, in which case it could potentially pique their interest to learn a little about why they just might want to learn a little about why eating gluten isn’t a great idea for anyone, or that soy isn’t nearly all it’s touted to be.

Another example of how something so simple could help so much…

1.) “EU FIC Regulations on Food Labelling.” Food Standards Agency. Food Standards Agency, n.d. Web. 28 Aug. 2015