Posted on Thursday 12th December 2019
Brandon Cook, Trading Standards Manager
People and businesses in Staffordshire are being reminded of the importance of clear allergen and ingredient information over the Christmas and New Year festivities.
With pubs, restaurants and takeaways gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year, Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards service is urging people who have food allergies or intolerances to check that food ordered does not contain an ingredient which would harm them.
People are reminded that prepacked foods will have an ingredients list which will highlight the 14 allergens but, in a restaurant, or takeaway the information may be provided in the form of a list or verbally if asked by a customer.
The service is also supporting the national ‘Easy to Ask’ campaign launched last year by the Food Standards Agency, Allergy UK and the Anaphylaxis Campaign to speak about allergies to keep everybody safe.
Brandon Cook, Trading Standards Manager at Staffordshire County Council said:
“With lots of festive work parties, nights out and family get togethers being planned in the run up to Christmas and New Year, we’re reminding people to be aware of the risks of food allergies.
“Food allergy has become a growing concern and can be life threatening, and that’s why we are also advising businesses of the importance of clear customer information regarding their food products and meals in restaurants. Providing customers with confidence to eat out is good for business and will encourage repeat business.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had a number of incidents in Staffordshire where people have ended up in hospital as a result of being served food that has given them a severe reaction. Our job is to help keep people safe and if people choose a food outlet and are in any doubt about what’s in their food, they should walk out.”
According to charity Allergy UK, over the last decade cases of food allergies have doubled and the number of hospitalisations caused by severe allergic reactions has increased seven-fold (EAACI, 2015). The organisation says that six to eight per cent of children have a proven food allergy (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2011).
A spokesperson from Allergy UK said:
“As the leading patient charity for people living with allergy, we are always concerned to hear of allergy incidents caused principally by a lack of communication on the allergen content of food.
“This is the time of year when people are eating out more perhaps than they usually do. People living with food allergy are usually vigilant on their own behalf and The Easy to Ask campaign was designed to encourage people living with allergies, particularly younger people, to ask food businesses about allergens, so that they can make safe choices. It’s all about communication between food businesses and their allergic customers and food businesses do need to think about doing more than just the bare minimum when it comes to catering for the food allergic community.”
People can find out more information by visiting the Allergy UK website.