Free food allergen course and online tool
A free food allergen course and an online tool aimed at dispelling myths about food allergy and intolerance has been launched on the NHS Choices website, with the help of the Food Standards Agency.
The tool, developed in conjunction with FSA allergy experts, looks at common misconceptions about food allergies and intolerances and sorts the facts from fiction. It tackles topics including:
• the differences between allergies and intolerances
• whether you can ‘outgrow’ allergies and intolerances
• the use of home-test kits
• whether allergies and intolerances can be cured
Click here to access the NHS food allergy on-line tool.
Click here to access the FSA free food allergen course
Click here to find out more about Safer Food Scores face to face allergen training
This follows on from the Food Allergy & Intolerance Awareness Week when the national charity Allergy UK looked to raise awareness not just of the physical effects of these conditions, but the social impact they have.
Worryingly nearly a quarter of UK adults (24%) view sufferers of food allergies and intolerances as ‘fussy’ or feel that they use their condition as an excuse not to eat something. Yet 45% of the UK population are estimated to be suffering from food intolerance and 2% of UK adults are diagnosed with a food allergy.
Despite the fact so many are affected, there is a distinct lack of information out there for sufferers and all too frequently the conditions are misunderstood. Simple activities like eating out, things that the general population take for granted, become a big headache for someone with food allergy or food intolerance.
Allergy UK has identified some of the key social consequences of living with either of these conditions to demonstrate the impact on people’s lives:
Kiss of Death Something as simple as a kiss can be a terrifying ordeal for an allergy sufferer. It doesn’t have to be an amorous encounter, a straightforward greeting or kiss on the cheek can prompt a reaction if the person has been in contact with a trigger food. Gemma Morris, 27, SKY news presenter has such a severe nut allergy that she can even react to a quick peck on the lips from her boyfriend after he’s eaten a chocolate bar.
Staying in is the new going out Allergy UK research has shown that 77% of those with a food allergy or intolerance changed their attitude to eating out as a result of their condition and find it much more difficult now. Alice Murdock is 18 years old and for her eating out is something she can only dream of, having never eaten out in a restaurant. Even having lunch or a simple supper at a friend’s house can cause problems. 70% of food allergy and intolerance sufferers said they feel like an inconvenience when eating at friend’s houses, often because people don’t understand their condition. For parents of children with allergies nearly a third (32%) find kids parties and eating out with the family stressful.
Making a quick getaway When it comes to a much needed break from the stresses and strains of modern life, for food allergy sufferers there’s no respite. Over half of allergy sufferers say their condition has restricted their holiday. Gemma Morris meticulously plans her holidays after a near fatal experience abroad due to her severe nut allergy. “I was on a ski trip to Austria, which turned into a life-threatening ordeal. I had eaten what I thought was ‘safe’ food in the hotel restaurant after the waiting staff assured me there were no nut derivatives in the dish. However, I went into anaphylactic shock in my hotel and spent 48 hours in a local hospital. “When I’m booking a holiday I always make sure there’s a hospital within reach and would never go anywhere without my adrenalin pen. For me, it’s a matter of life or death.”
The stresses of shopping Food allergy and intolerance has a big impact on food shopping. According to Allergy UK research 62% of sufferers said it changed the way they shop. Bunmi Sobowale, 30, founded an online food portal for those with food allergies and intolerances having spent four years trying to get a diagnosis for multiple food intolerances. In that time she temporarily lost her sight and the ability to walk. So sick of the long tiresome search for food she could safely eat, she now provides information to people on food they can eat locally and nationally.
Click here to access a poster that can be used to remind your team to take food allergies seriously.