New advice on allergens is being launched by Warwickshire County Council Trading Standards and District and Borough Council Environmental Health Teams.
This follows a Warwickshire Trading Standards food safety project which revealed that some Indian, Chinese, Italian and fish and chip takeaways were failing to adequately warn consumers about potentially dangerous allergens in their meals.
The visits were prompted by the death of a customer of a North Yorkshire restaurant who suffered a fatal anaphylactic shock after eating a curry containing peanuts. The owner had claimed the product was nut free. He was subsequently jailed for six years.
Trading Standards officers visited 18 takeaways across Warwickshire as part of their project and discovered that some owners were not preventing the cross contamination of foods, potentially resulting for example in nut free meals containing nuts.
Officers also discovered that in some cases neither owners nor their staff could provide accurate information to customers about what allergens were in their meals or tell them where allergenic information could be found. General knowledge about allergens was also very poor and inconsistent.
Warwickshire County Councillor Howard Roberts, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “This was an important enforcement exercise which highlighted a serious issue. Where problems were identified, Trading Standards officers worked with the businesses to improve their compliance.”
“Trading Standards and Environmental Health Teams have also worked together to develop new allergen awareness guidance which will now be distributed across the County.”
Which ingredients can cause a problem?
Cereals containing gluten
- Sesame seeds
- Sulphur dioxide
Allergens, such as peanuts can cause allergic reactions which in the most serious cases can be fatal. Takeaways should be able to tell a customer if the meal they are buying contains an allergen or know where to direct them to this information.
The law requires food businesses to provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged in for example takeaways and other catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars.
The new allergen leaflet can be downloaded at: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/foodsafety
Further information can be obtained by visiting the Food Standards Agency website: www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/allergy-guide
Further help and advice for businesses:
• Warwickshire Trading Standards: 03454 040506 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• Warwick District Council Food Team: 01926 456713 or email@example.com
• North Warwickshire Food Team: 01827 715341 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• Nuneaton and Bedworth Food Team: 024 7637 6401 or email email@example.com
• Rugby Borough Council Food Team: 01788 533851 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• Stratford upon Avon District Council Food Team: 01789 267575
The Food Standards Agency advises customers with food allergies or intolerances to:
• When eating out, let the person serving you know your dietary requirements, including how severe your food allergy or intolerance is.
• Always check what allergens are in the dish even if you have eaten it before, as recipes and ingredients can change.
• If you are not sure about a dish or about the information you have been provided, don’t risk it! Don’t order the dish or eat at the premises.
• Always carry your prescribed allergy rescue medication with you and ensure family and friends know how to use it on you, if necessary.