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Food Programme on food allergies

Discussion in 'Health News and Research unrelated to ME/CFS' started by MeSci, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. MeSci

    MeSci Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Cornwall, UK
    On BBC Radio 4


    May Contain Nuts

    The Food Programme

    Following the recent high-profile cases involving food allergy deaths, Bee Wilson investigates whether labelling needs to go further to protect allergy sufferers. Bee asks if the growing number of people suffering from food allergies could be due to our diet and finds out how food production and labelling might change following the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who had a severe allergic reaction to Sesame after eating a baguette from Pret a Manger.

    Bee speaks to Michelle Berriedale-Johnson and Professor Chris Elliott about the state of current food regulations and the frustrations of the 'May Contain...' label. Dr Adam Fox and dietitian Lucy Upton talk through the probable causes of food allergies and why their increasingly prevalent in young people. Bee visits Vita Mojo whose use of digital menus offers their customers pinpoint accurate information about which potential allergens are in which dish. Kerrie Foy describes the shock of discovering that her daughter Bluebell may have a peanut allergy and describes how it's turned their lives upside down.
  2. arewenearlythereyet

    arewenearlythereyet Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I haven’t listened to it yet, but thought I would put my uncoontaminated thoughts down first.

    The main thing I would say is that the Pret case was a clear and deliberate misinterpretation of the labelling regulations. Pret (who I think are owned by McDonald’s) buy most of their sandwiches from food manufacturers, but their marketing infers that the products are all prepared on the premises (some food is). The issue is that they had all of the allergy information available to them from the manufacturer but chose to adopt a small business provision (loophole) that allowed the small business that prepares all of their food from scratch on the premises to have the information only when asked.

    Sadly the consumer assumed by the fact that Pret is a chain and the products clearly look prepackaged that the allergen information was comprehensive.

    Personally I think when it comes to Pret, they deserve everything they get, since they are misrepresenting the products they are selling and putting public health at risk. The law should be tightened up to prevent other large multi-site foodservice retailers from using this loophole.

    As far as independent small businesses in food service (£100-250k turnover or there abouts etc.), I’m not sure what can be done since they would probably all go out of business if they had to allergen label all their products (this is more complicated than it sounds in terms of expense). Part of the reason we like shopping in these places (as oppose to chains) is that they offer us something different. Small foodservice businesses represent well over 50% of all foodservice sales in the UK so we have a lot of small low resource businesses driving the economy as oppose to enormous multinationals. It may be different elsewhere (particularly in the USA). Manufacturers are already set up to give all the information that consumers may need. I don’t think the problem lies here. It’s a matter of what to display and how far we want to go down the mass produced prepackaged route.

    When it comes to consumers, I think there is sadly a much higher frequency of young people suffering from death or near misses by allergic reaction. This appears to be in part from them moving from leaving the protection of the parents managing the risk. I believe there is some steps being taken to raise awareness of the risks to young people but I suspect the government will adopt a Teflon approach to this expense and put the blame at manufacturers/retailers door (their normal responsibility shirking position).

    I do think the rules need to focus on true anaphylactic allergic reactions (as opposed to the mainly self diagnosed food intolerances). The consumer where having a true allergic reaction to a foodstuff also needs to be better educated to take more responsibility for managing the issue (a bit like diabetes etc). In short it needs to be taken seriously in terms of correct labelling, education and self management. The government has a role to play in helping with this. I have no faith that Gove has any intention of doing a proper job though. We will see.

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