Council supports food allergies campaign

Published Monday, 24th September 2018

Council officials in Hartlepool are backing a Food Standards Agency (FSA) campaign that aims to help protect young people with food allergies.

The “easy to ASK” campaign has been launched in response to research that shows over half of young people (60%) with a food allergy or intolerance have avoided eating out in the last six months due to their condition.

The FSA research, which was carried out in partnership with Allergy UK and the Anaphylaxis Campaign, also found that 41 per cent of young people (16-24-years-old) with food allergies or intolerances didn’t feel confident at all or only felt a little confident to ask serving staff for allergen information.

It suggests that many young people are too embarrassed to talk publicly about having a food allergy or intolerance especially when in a social setting with their peers – risking allergic reactions or even more fatal consequences.

It is hoped that the “easy to ASK” campaign will serve as a reminder to food establishments about their responsibility to ask customers about their dietary needs and to help put at ease people with food allergies, especially those who are young and may be embarrassed.

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Sylvia Pinkney, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Head of Public Protection, said:

“There is no doubt that real progress has been made in the way that food businesses deal with customers with allergies.

“But the fact that this latest research found that 60% of 16-24-year-olds with food allergies and intolerances have avoided eating out in the past six months because of their condition shows that more needs to be done to encourage them to speak up and make them feel at ease when dining out.

“We want to ensure businesses are prepared with the relevant allergy information and encourage them to make it easier for everyone to ask the question, speak up and help keep those at risk safe.”

The 14 allergens that food businesses must be aware of and be able to provide their customers with information on are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, cereals containing gluten, eggs, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, soya, sesame, sulphur dioxide/sulphites, celery, mustard and lupin.

Dr Chun-Han Chan, Food Allergy Policy Lead at the FSA, said: “We are dedicated to encouraging conversations between food businesses and their customers across the country. Together we want to help young people living with food allergies be confident that the food they are served is safe to consume every time. Our easy to ASK campaign aims to empower customers, whether they live with a food allergy or not, to speak up and help keep those at risk safe.”