Businesses are reminded of allergen labelling rules which require customers to be made aware about allergens in their food.
To mark Allergy Awareness Week 2016, Waveney and Suffolk Coastal District Councils are reminding food businesses in east Suffolk about allergen labelling rules which were introduced in 2014. The rules require that all food businesses must verbally explain and/or signpost to where allergen information can be found.
The top 14 allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, cereals containing gluten, eggs, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, soya, sesame, sulphur dioxide/sulphites, celery, mustard and lupin.
The new rules mean that all food businesses need to inform customers when any of the 14 specific allergenic ingredients are present in the food they make or serve.
Food allergies can cause life-threatening reactions and the numbers of people with this condition are growing. The primary cause of food allergy deaths in the UK is due to allergic reactions caused when food is prepared and consumed outside of the home where allergenic ingredients have been used and not declared.
A recent joint Food Standard Agency (FSA) and Allergy UK survey of consumers has shown the situation is improving for those with allergies. Around a third of people with a food allergy surveyed have suffered a reaction in the last year when eating out of the home. The vast majority of these (25%) took place in a restaurant or cafe, with 9% being a result of takeaway food.
Cllr Mary Rudd, Waveney's cabinet member for Community Health and Safety said:
"With around two million allergic consumers in the UK, having the correct allergy information is good for business. Food outlets could be missing out on extra custom by not providing clear and accurate allergen information about the food they sell or serve."
Cllr Steve Gallant, Suffolk Coastal's cabinet member for Community Health said:
"Any food business in need of guidance regarding the new rules can contact Waveney or Suffolk Coastal District Council and speak to a food safety officer for help. Advice and further information is available online at www.food.gov.uk/allergen-resources and also on the Council website."
Dr Chun-Han Chan from the Food Standards Agency said:
"In the UK around two million people are living with a food allergy and around 600,000 with coeliac disease. There is no cure for food allergies or intolerances, so the only way for people to manage the condition is to avoid the food that makes them ill. That is why providing accurate food allergen labelling and information is potentially life-saving. Since 2014, we have seen an increase in allergen information being provided to consumers. However, there is more work to be done and more improvements businesses can make."