Food allergies still ignored, says group

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food Food allergy

A pressure group in the UK is using food allergy and intolerance
week to highlight what they see as a serious lack of understanding
of the condition.

Allergy UK argues that too often, symptoms are not taken seriously and sufferers are told that it is 'all in the mind'.

But while two per cent of the population suffering from food allergy, which can in some instances be life threatening, a much higher percentage suffer from food intolerance. The pressure group says that both conditions can seriously impact on all aspects of life.

The food industry now finds itself in a position of great responsibility. Allergen labelling regulations that came into force on 25 November require companies to label all pre-packed foods if they contain any of the 12 listed allergenic foods as an ingredient.

The mandatory inclusion on food labels of the most common food allergen ingredients and their derivatives covers cereals containing gluten, fish, crustaceans, egg, peanut, soybeans, milk and dairy products including lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seed, and sulphites.

Food companies are consequently a great deal more cautious now; there is growing public awareness about food allergens and a recall can cost millions and irreparably damage a build-up reputation.

Unsurprisingly, UK food testing laboratory RSSL has seen an increase in demand for more testing from food companies. The Reading-based firm claims to have analysed "a vast array of different food and beverage matrices"​, including both cooked and raw ingredients.

The company said it has also been "doing a lot of analysis of both environmental swabs and rinse waters"​ to help companies in their fight against cross contamination.

But allergy UK is also calling for more time and resources to be allocated to helping people with food allergy and food intolerance. It argues that there is often insufficient time for patients in busy GP surgeries and a lack of training and knowledge of allergy among healthcare professionals.

This can result in sufferers being forced to turn to alternative methods for diagnosis and using expensive clinically unproven tests, which in turn can result in them following unnecessary diets that can be damaging to general health.

Management, says the group, is the key to avoiding an allergic reaction. Allergy UK's leaflets including 'Food Allergy and Food Intolerance - The Difference'​ on individual food triggers can provide guidance to both consumers and the food industry.

An estimated four per cent of adults and eight per cent of children in the 380 million EU population suffer from food allergies, according to the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients' Associations.

There is no cure for a food allergy, and vigilance by an allergic individual is the only way to prevent a reaction.

Food Allergy and Intolerance Week commenced on Monday and is designed to highlight the lack of understanding and resources for people suffering from these conditions.

Related topics Markets

Related news

Show more