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"It Won't Kill You"

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Yes, it will.

Sadly, we have already seen the first report in 2015 of a young person dying from an allergic reaction after eating in a local restaurant.

This follows at least 11 reported deaths in 2014, 19 in 2013 and 10 in 2012.

And these are just the cases that have received publicity. There are probably many other cases that have gone undiagnosed or unreported.

In January, Shahida Shahid, an 18-year-old student from Salford, collapsed within an hour of leaving the Almost Famous burger restaurant in Manchester and died in hospital three days later.

The Home Office post mortem revealed the provisional cause of death was hypoxic encephalopathy, which describes damage caused to the brain by oxygen starvation, due to anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction.

It is understood that Ms Shahid informed the Almost Famous serving staff of her allergies before ordering her meal. She was advised that a particular chicken dish was suitable for her, which she ordered and ate.

Unfortunately, when it came to providing information and advice about allergenics in the food that they were serving, the Almost Famous staff were probably well-meaning but seriously misinformed.

Since December 13 of last year, restaurants and takeaways have been required by law to tell customers if any of the main 14 food allergen ingredients covered by the legislation are present in the food they serve.

In addition to the fatalities, about 5,000 people are hospitalised per year due to allergic reactions.

The Food Standards Authority went on to say that the majority of these avoidable deaths and hospitalisations are caused by incorrect information being given about allergenic ingredients in foods to customers who are eating out.

Research carried out by Allergy UK and the FSA has discovered that 7 out of 10 people with allergies avoid eating out or buying takeaways due to concerns about allergens and lack of trust in the information they are given by caterers.

We have just published an ebook called The Professional Caterer's Allergen Handbook, which explains how the legislation affects your business and suggests measures that you can take to protect your customers and yourself.

If you would like a free copy, email me at teresa@menuanalyser.co.uk.


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