It’s ‘Easy to ASK’- Warwickshire Trading Standards Helps Protect Young People with Food Allergies

Food Standards Agency (FSA) survey shows over half of young people (60 per cent) with a food allergy or intolerance have avoided eating out in the last six months due to their condition.

Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service is supporting the FSA’s new campaign ‘Easy to ASK’ to help remind food establishments to ask customers about their dietary needs, and help put people with food allergies (especially those who are young and may be embarrassed) at ease.

Feeling different is never easy, but for some young people it’s having worrying implications. 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.

In fact, new research by the FSA in partnership with Allergy UK and the Anaphylaxis Campaign reveals that 41 per cent of young people (16-24-years-old) with food allergies or intolerances don’t feel confident at all or only feel a little confident to ask serving staff for allergen information. The research also reveals that 60 per cent of those surveyed avoid dining out due to their condition – a poor outcome for both those young people and food businesses alike.

That’s why Warwickshire Trading Standards is partnering with colleagues at the FSA to launch ‘Easy to ASK’, a campaign designed to help break down this barrier.

Warwickshire Trading Standards will be promoting the campaign locally both to Warwickshire businesses and to young people themselves at schools, colleges and universities. For many university students it may be the first time they are living away from home so the campaign hopes to support these individuals.

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. This is one of the pieces of legislation enforced by Trading Standards. Officers provide help and guidance to food businesses to assist them to comply.

The 14 allergens 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.

Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said: “We’ve seen real progress in how food businesses approach customers with allergies. However, 60 per cent of 16-24-year-olds with food allergies and intolerances have avoided eating out in the past six months because of their condition. It’s clear there is more to be done to encourage this particular age group 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.”

Dr Chun-Han Chan, food allergy policy lead at the Food Standards Agency, said: “Working in partnership with Warwickshire Trading Standards 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.”

Warwickshire Trading Standards allergen advice leaflets for businesses, visit https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/foodsafety

To view the full research report on Young People and Food Allergies/Intolerances visit food.gov.uk/research/food-allergy-and-intolerance-research/young-people-and-food-allergiesintolerances

For more information on the Food Standards Agency visit food.gov.uk/easytoask

For more information on allergen guidance for businesses visit food.gov.uk/allergens

For more information on Allergy UK visit allergyuk.org/

For more information on the Anapylaxis Campaign anaphylaxis.org.uk/