20 years working with Hampshire Constabulary taught me many things. Things which perhaps seemed insignificant to me as a singleton with only myself to …
Food allergies and intolerance are a growing health concern in the UK. They are life changing and in serious cases can be fatal, or lead to long-term health conditions.
Over 20,000 admitted to hospital each year with allergy, 61.8% (12,560) of admissions due to allergic reactions were emergencies, a 6.2% increase (730) on the same period last year (11,830).(HSCIC, 2014) – Facts provided from Allergy UK.
Food allergy occurs when the body makes an abnormal response to its presence. It produces an antibody known as IgE to fight against a specific type of food. On the next occasion the food is eaten it sparks off an immune system response. Sometimes this can happen when the food item is just touched. As the immune system responds the IgE is released and attaches to the surface of mast cells. The next time the person eats that food, it interacts with specific IgE on the surface of the mast cells and triggers the cells to release chemicals such as histamine. Depending upon the tissue in which they are released, these chemicals will cause a person to have various food allergy symptoms within a minute to hours later. Allergy symptoms can vary, for example:
Stomach – abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea;
Skin – swelling and itching, hives, eczema;
Upper airways – runny nose or sneezing;
Lower airways, a wheeze or cough, trouble swallowing and/or breathing – bronchospasm;
Mouth – itching of the throat, swelling of the tongue/lips:
Very rarely the immune system releases chemicals throughout the body causing a ‘systemic’ reaction, such as anaphylaxis. It is therefore vital that people know exactly what they are consuming to avoid contact with the food item that causes them to suffer an allergic reaction. Thanks to new labelling rules set out in European Directives, they ensure that all consumers are given a comprehensive list of ingredients making it much easier for people with food allergies to identify the ingredients they need to avoid. Following the implementation of the Food Information for Consumers Regulation allergen labelling rules changed in December 2014. All food service organisations (no matter what the size) serving unpackaged food or food that is packaged on site for immediate consumption, will have to supply details of the menu items that contain the European Union top 14 allergens within the dishes they serve. Here are the top 14 allergens:
As you may know I am severely allergic to almonds and peanuts having experienced anaphylaxis from both. The new labelling has made it much easier for me to determine which foods are safe to eat or not. However I still forewarn a restaurant that I will be visiting and explain my allergies to them to give them plenty of notice. I also remind them upon my arrival. This way the restaurant is fully prepared and understands the severity and consequences of anaphylaxis, something which I have discovered can be trivialised and then disregarded. Unfortunately I am also allergic to latex and sadly this is a huge problem for many people. Whilst allergy legislation is improving slowly there is nothing to safeguard people like me from latex contamination. As such I have started a ‘Lose The Latex’ campaign which I have detailed in the next section: Lose The Latex.