Food Safety Scotland

Restaurants & Takeaways Fail on Allergy Information

Food Allergy Information Failure how to display allergy information

Every year, 5000 people with food allergies need hospital treatment for severe allergic reactions and 10 die from food-related anaphylaxis
Since December 2014, takeaways have had to join other types of food business in providing accurate information on the allergens in their food, but many are still failing to do so.
The 14 allergens are: cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soybeans, milk, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame, sulphur dioxide/sulphites, lupin, molluscs.

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The Royal Society for Public Health Reported back in July on Allergy Information

• 2 million people in the UK are living with food allergies, and these are on the rise
• Takeaways are involved with many of the fatal allergic reactions that take place
• Over two thirds appeared to be flouting the law by not providing information in the right way.
Our calls to action:
• Food delivery platforms to request allergen information from takeaways before signing them up
• FSA to link food hygiene rating scheme to allergen management
• Takeaway operators to make sure staff are properly trained to manage the risks from allergens
• Takeaways to make sure they are not breaking the law over allergens
• Food allergic consumers to understand the issues faced by takeaways, communicate clearly and exercise caution

Mystery Dining Research on Allergy Information

6 months on from the introduction of the new rules, RSPH undertook a ‘mystery dining’ investigation.They  sampled 65 takeaways primarily across London looking at the UK’s top 10 cuisines : Chinese, Indian, Fish and Chips, Pizza, Fried Chicken, Kebab, Thai, Burger, Sushi and Italian.
In each takeaway they enquired about a meal asking 3 key questions:

1. Could they tell us whether 3 of the major allergens were in the meal?
2. Did they appear to have a record of allergens to make sure what they told us was accurate, could be checked, and the same information would be given each time?
3. Was it clear how we could get hold of this information?

RSPH found a high proportion of takeaways did not appear to adhere to these rules, and were therefore breaking the law. Of the cuisine types, fried chicken takeaways performed the most consistently poorly across all three areas. Results were as follows:
Do they know what’s in your food?
How do you know you’ve been given the right information?
If the information is not given in writing (next to items on a menu or leaflet), there must be a system in place to make sure it’s accurate, can be checked by others, and the same information is given each time. The FSA suggests keeping a record of which allergens go into which dishes. We found that 4/5 takeaways said they weren’t doing this, and only 1/10 could actually show a record when asked.

allergy information failure?