Ten reasons why allergy tsar is a must
“Allergy tsar” who can “act as a public champion to tackle the allergy epidemic”, as well as increasing the number of specialist allergy clinics and developing a national register of severe allergic reactions.
You may have seen that bereaved parents have set up a petition to encourage our Government to appoint an Allergy Tsar.
The story has gone live recently and information is slowly getting out there about it. Here’s just one so far and I’m sure others will emerge – Click here to read.
As someone who lives with serious allergies and also the risk of anaphylaxis on a daily basis I support this idea and have signed the petition myself. We need to educate people that this is serious and it’s getting more serious.
Here are just ten reasons why we need someone to advocate for us at the highest level.
- 1 . Allergies are on the rise and with that the risk of anaphylaxis, since 2012 there has been a 615 per cent increase on those admitted to hospital due to serious allergic reactions to an allergen.
- 2 . The cost of dealing with this right from a GP surgery up to hospital treatment, the time of paramedics and, sometimes, a death is mounting. This can be halted with a person ‘at the top’ changing the culture around allergies.
- 3 . Food allergies in children are also on the rise and there has been little research into why this is happening – we need to understand what’s going on.
- 4 . Allergies are not taken seriously in the hospitality sector especially with Covid19 – we can be turned away or, even worse, ‘lied to’ about what is in a dish. Much more training is needed.
- 5 . Food allergies are rarely taken seriously in hospitals either. If you are admitted to hospital it will prove very difficult to get meals, food or drinks which are, for example, free of gluten and other allergens. You can be in hospital for something completely different and be at risk of anaphylaxis from the very food or drinks they offer.
- 6 . Supermarkets need to get much smarter online when it comes to allergens. Searching for free from products on their websites can be difficult eg. You can search ‘free from nuts’ or ‘no nuts’ and you will get all of the nut products.
- 7 . Supermarkets need to understand that those with allergens can go to the ‘free from’ section and still have to search through loads of ingredients on the back as it’s such a catch-all phrase. There is a case for labelling of products to be clearer and segmenting of products eg. Gluten free/free from top 14 allergens etc.
- 8 . The food sector needs to be much clearer in its overall labelling when it comes to allergens. For example, if a previously safe product has an ingredient change or is made in a different factor which is not allergy free – that needs to be made very prominent.
- 9 . Staff in all food outlets and hospitality settings need to be trained – and regularly refreshed – in the possible consequences of not being very clear and knowledgeable about allergens. There have been multiple case where staff have ‘fudged’ the issue or downright told lies and, as a consequence, those customers with allergies have become seriously ill and, sadly, on occasion have died
- 10 . There should be a criminal offence of manslaughter or causing death through negligence for those who are found to be negligent in dealing with an allergic customer who then goes on to lose their life due to incorrect information. This could be where a business owner, or member of staff, has told lies about ingredients in a product. The sector must be accountable for the information it shares when that information could be the difference between life or death.
I feel very strongly about this because I have to decide who to trust around my allergies every single day. Why at 32 years old should I still feel so isolated? Why should I have to make judgments based upon whether or not I trust this person, this establishment, this shop?
In my business, I make it my job to trace all ingredients back to source. I make suppliers sign an agreement around what’s in those ingredients and how products are prepared, packaged. If I can do it, others can too. Indeed, my business is going further – but that’s another story for another day.
The petition is here