Food allergies are an increasing demand on the NHS and should be a priority for food businesses staff and management. Knowledge acquisition and refreshers about allergies, reactions and cross contamination eradication are essential for people working with food..
Since the 2014 introduction of relevant legislation, a food business which sells loose food must provide information about fourteen allergens (see below) when they’re used as an ingredient in food sold or supplied to the public. Any prepacked food’s ingredients list must have the allergen or allergens highlighted for optimum visibility.
Food allergies sufferers must be advised if any of the following are present: (F.S.A.)
- Cereals containing gluten. Wheat (such as spelt and khorasan wheat), rye, barley and oats.
- e.g.Prawns, crabs, lobster, crayfish.
- e.g. Mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid.
- Nuts. Specifically, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia (or Queensland) nuts.
- Milk, including lactose.
- Celery, including celeriac.
- Sulphur dioxide/sulphites, at a level above 10mg/kg or 10mg/L in the finished product. This can be used as a preservative in dried fruit
- Includes lupin seeds and flour which can be found in breads, pastries and pasta.
Food allergies sufferers’ response to an allergen:
- The body’s immune system defends the consumer against proteins it perceives to be a threat.
- After a release of chemical antibodies, milder reactions can include itching, rashes, facial swellings and vomiting.
- Anaphylactic shock causes breathlessness and a lack of focus or consciousness. It may lead to death.
- An antihistamine provides allergy response relief.
- A food intolerance is unpleasant, but it is not life threatening.
The ramifications of not using or adhering to a food safety management system and recognising the signs of food allergies in consumers are serious and distressing but risks can be significantly reduced by taking food safety courses and allergens awareness training through industry specialists like Food Alert.
In classroom, on the business premises, and online courses take a short time, cost much less than a food safety incident and could make the difference between a consumer eschewing a dish or ordering it, mistakenly believing that it does not include allergens.
The Food Allergens Awareness course from Food Alert takes half a day and will serve you for years.
The course overview:
- Introduction of allergens.
- Identify allergies and their causes.
- What is food allergy?
- Symptoms of allergic reactions.
- Foods that can cause allergic reactions.
- Food labelling and the Food Information Regulations 2014.
- Implementation of practical solutions to ensure compliance.
- Identifying cross contamination warnings.
- Withdrawing affected food from sale.
- Notifying customers of regulated allergens.
- Actions to take in case of allergic reaction.
Your customers assume that you and your employees have a duty of care and will not allow any form of cross contamination which places them at risk, this is true of every consumer, not only food allergies sufferers. Education is a key tool for food safety, please don’t allow it to fall behind.