Allergen detection and tracking in food is becoming increasingly challenging, as food supply chains become more diverse and complex. Similarly, labelling food products and alerting consumers to the presence of such allergens is not without its problems. It is especially difficult in restaurants, office cafeterias, and hospitality services where menus and ingredients change daily or weekly and where kitchens are controlled by chefs locally, rather by central management. Ensuring a customer is aware of the potential allergens in their food is critical, particularly given the rise of food allergies globally, not to mention the risk of serious illness or death.
This challenge, set in conjunction with the UK's leading independent hospitality provider, Benugo, sought innovative digital solutions to enable accurate allergen tracking, detection and communication. Applicants should have considered how their solution addressed at least one of the challenge parts: To make it safe for restaurant chefs to buy from a local source, capturing allergen data from purchased ingredients that may not come with product specification sheets; To accurately communicate user-friendly allergen information to consumers; To provide a rapid, cost-effective detection “test” for allergens in a menu item.