Food allergy facts
Here are some key facts about food allergy:
- People suffering severe reactions need emergency expert help from a trained paramedic, usually with injectable adrenaline.
- In the UK, about ten people die every year from food-induced anaphylaxis.
- There are also about 1,500 asthma deaths, some of which might be triggered by food allergy.
- For those at greatest risk, the tiniest trace of food allergen can trigger severe symptoms and, in some cases, cause fatal or near-fatal symptoms.
- Many of those who die or suffer ‘near miss’ reactions had no idea that they were at risk. Those who are aware of the risk can find the day-to-day unpredictability of living with food allergy risks stressful.
- Teenagers and young adults seem to be at particular risk of severe reactions.
- Many people with a food allergy also have asthma, which can make food reactions more severe if it’s not controlled by regular medication.
Which foods can cause allergy?
- In Europe, food allergens are monitored and assessed by clinical and scientific experts through the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). They advise on which foods need to be labelled on pre-packed foods.
- Annex II of the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No.1169/2011 lists 14 food allergens that must always be labelled in pre-packed and non-prepacked foods.
- Foods that need to be labelled on pre-packed foods when used as ingredients are:
- Cereals containing gluten such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt or khorasan
- Crustaceans for example prawns, crabs, lobster, crayfish
- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia (or Queensland) nuts
- Celery (including celeriac)
- Sesame seeds
- Sulphur dioxide (>10mg/kg or 10mg/L)
- Mollusc for example clams, mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid