by Julie Brannan

Lots of us will remember reading the terrible stories about two young girls who died as a result of eating pre-packaged and take-away food that had either been wrongly labelled or ill-prepared. With the Christmas Season fast approaching, it’s important to remember, should you suffer from any kind of food allergy, that what you’re having is safe.

Bearing in mind all the various food allergens, with 14 of the most common allergens comprising eggs, milk, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, cereals containing gluten, soya , celery/celeriac, mustard, lupus, sulphur dioxide and sulphates – it’s good to know that now there are now stringent regulations in place to ensure that :

  1. Prepacked foods which are then sold on MUST have a full ingredient label on packaging. Any allergens must be emphasised on the label.
  2. Foods prepared and then packaged for direct sale in an on-site kitchen do not need to adhere to the same law as businesses selling prepacked foods. The regulations stipulate allergen information in writing is NOT MANDATORY.  Instead, business operators are afforded discretion as to how they communicate allergen information to customers (either in writing or orally).
  3. Non-prepacked foods are best described as foods sold loose, or foods packed at the consumer’s request and can include :
    • Foods sold loose in a retail environment eg deli counter (cheese, cold meats, muffins, baked goods)
    • Foods sold in catering environments eg meals served in restaurant, foods served from takeaway and packed at consumer’s request. Again, business operators are afforded the discretion to communicate any allergen information in writing or orally.

It’s important to know your rights.

If you suffer from food allergies, you should ALWAYS make sure you carefully read labels on pre-packed food.  If you’re out having a meal and you’re not sure what’s actually in the food you have ordered and the menu isn’t clear, ask what’s contained in any meal you order to ensure you’re going to be able to eat it safely.  It’s exactly the same with takeaway food.  If you’re not sure – ask.

Rest assured if you do have any issues, whether you’ve bought a prepacked sandwich, a takeaway meal, or had what you thought was going to be a lovely meal at a restaurant, we at St Helens Law can help you to get the compensation you deserve should you suffer an allergic reaction.

The last thing we want to see is anyone losing out at their Christmas Party because they’ve been taken ill, so please be aware.

For more information call 01744 454433, or click here to email info@sthelenslaw.co.uk