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Food Allergens: Cut The Risk

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Food allergies and intolerances are growing health concerns in the UK. In serious cases, they can be fatal or lead to long-term health conditions. This was demonstrated last year when a teenager from Lancashire tragically died from acute asthma due to a nut allergy, after eating food from a local takeaway. It has recently been announced that the owners will be charged with manslaughter and failing to comply with EU provision concerning food safety and hygiene.

According to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), every year in the UK, 5,000 of the 2 million people living with food allergies need hospital treatment for severe allergic reactions and, on average, 10 people die from food-induced anaphylaxis.

Since 2014, food businesses have been legally required to inform customers that allergen information is available. In addition, the business must be able to inform the customer if any of the specified allergens are present in the dishes served.

If you are a food business selling loose food, you must provide information about 14 allergens - if used as an ingredient in the food you are providing or selling. You can do this on a menu, chalkboard, website or orally, but you must point out and emphasise this information to your customers.

If you sell prepacked foods, the ingredients list must have the allergen present highlighted. Further information can be found at: https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/multimedia/pdfs/publication/allergy-labelling-prepacked.pdf

Peter Christopher-Ohrt, Managing Director Technical Services, Food Alert Ltd, concludes: “Food businesses must be aware of the significant risk that arises from allergens – it is one of the major causes of deaths from food.  It is imperative that they inform customers that allergen information is available and must be in a position to provide accurate information regarding the 14 specified allergens.” 

Further information on the control of allergens can be found at: https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/multimedia/pdfs/publication/loosefoodsleaflet.pdf

“It is really important that new dishes and menus are analysed before they are served, and that staff are provided with frequent refreshers.”  

“At Food Alert, we assist our clients by providing classroom and online training.  In addition we provide an online allergen control system on our FACT safety management system, as well as a more simplified manual system.  To ensure the procedures are operating correctly, we also carry out audits for our clients.”

For further information on dealing with allergens within your business, or if you are a customer, contact our Advice Line or call us on 020 7244 1900 or email enquiries@foodalert.com