Got a food allergy?

Bread skull (blog)

Some allergy sufferers people spend a lifetime avoiding eating out and always have to cook for themselves to make sure that they are not playing Russian roulette with their lives. Now, new rules in the EU means that all packaged and unpackaged foods, including those served in restaurants, takeaways and canteens, by law, have to be able to provide the customers with information on possible allergens in the various dishes and products.

For businesses, especially the small ones, this is a burden, having to trawl though possible hundreds of ingredients in recipes and extra training for their staff. But, isn’t it our rights as consumers knowing what goes into our food, especially if taking the wrong mouthful could be life threatening?

I am fortunate to “only” suffer food intolerances, rather than allergies. However, whenever I eat out and ask the staff for information about gluten, dairy and sugar it’s rather hit and miss if that staff member knows this info or can find out. Sometimes I take a gamble, but for me, it’s not the end of the world if a tiny amount of gluten found its way into my soup (although getting sick isn’t particularly pleasant, it won’t kill me), for an allergy sufferer or someone with an autoimmune disorder, it just might, or at least have severe consequences.

In New Zealand and Australia, food retailers and food outlets (for example cafes and restaurants) are required to provide information about allergens if requested. Foods which must carry a label also has to display allergen information. Typically its displayed in bold or in brackets. However, all the un-labelled and un-packaged foods are still a mystery for those with allergens. Let’s hope that the move forward towards greater transparency continues (also when it comes to processed foods and all the things added to it, their origins and treatments, but that’s a whole other story).

Do you know what the most common allergens are? Check out this great infographic from the UK Food Standards Agency below. Just note that substances and ingredients that must be declared on food labels in New Zealand and Australia only count ten rather than 14 (NZ and Oz don’t have to declare celery, mustard, lupin and molluscs).

If you would like to see more articles like this and gluten, dairy and sugar-free recipes you can follow me here (via email, see top right on this page) or on Facebook.

14 allergens in new rule

 

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