Recently you may have seen that food allergies have dominated news headlines over the past few months with some of the effects being devastating. This prompted the BBC Watchdog televising their own research into the importance of correct food allergy information both on packaging and inside food establishments.
There are 14 major allergens when it comes to food including nuts, mustard and celery – which are often used as flavouring in many stocks and sauces. However, out of the 30 different food outlets they visited, only five gave accurate information to the reporters.
We found BBC Watchdog’s research on Wednesday 28th November shocking, with 16.6% of the food outlets featured being unable to provide the undercover reporters with correct allergy information. Not only is this extremely worrying for people who have food allergies, it could potentially be life threatening too.
During the programme we saw some of the big chain restaurants and coffee shops unable to provide the correct allergy information, with one well known restaurant asking an undercover reporter to sign a terms and conditions form stating they cannot guarantee the dish to be completely free of any allergens – except gluten. These findings are truly scary considering that in 2017, there were 86,627 businesses operating in the restaurant or mobile food service industry across the UK. This could result in more than 13,000 food outlets providing incorrect information.
The research carried out by BBC Watchdog indicated it could be extremely dangerous for people who live with food allergies to simply eat out – not knowing whether the information they are given regarding allergens is correct. Roughly 3% of the UK population are living with a diagnosed food allergy; that’s in the region of 2 million people. The presenter of BBC Watchdog felt compelled by the findings to seek a meeting with Heather Hancock – Chair of the Food Standards Agency, highlighting their findings and attempting to prompt a change in national policy. Currently the NHS reports that on average there are 10 deaths per year as a direct result of a food-based allergic reactions therefore, changes in the policy could save lives.
How can we help?
Education and awareness of food allergies could save lives therefore as part of our commitment to raising awareness of this issue, we are making our allergy awareness course free for individuals over the month of January. All you need to do is click here to request your free course today and we will provide you with the necessary login details.