The hidden dangers of allergens

Allergies are very common. We all know someone who has an allergy, from those with hay fever to those who have to avoid household pets.

In what is Allergy Awareness Week, it’s important to remember how this dedicated week aims to educate people on different allergies and improve knowledge of what can sometimes be a life-threatening condition.

According to Allergy UK, since the first Allergy Awareness Week in 1998, no matter the changes the world has witnessed over the ensuing decades – much hasn’t changed towards the attitude of understanding an allergy as a serious disease.

“We still live in a world where people think hay fever is just a sniff, a food allergy is a lifestyle choice, a skin allergy just a bit of dry skin, and respiratory allergies like pet and mould allergies, are just because people are a bit sensitive,” Allergy UK writes. All against the backdrop of allergies affecting more and more people.

So much so that for this Allergy Awareness Week, Allergy UK wants to highlight the sad truth that the incidence of allergies is now #toobigtoignore.

It is great to note that food companies such as Bakkavor, retailers such as Tesco, and Saputo Dairy’s dairy-free brand Vitalite UK, are working to lead the industry to make a difference. Vitalite, in particular, has struck a partnership with training provider The Allergy Badge to campaign for better industry awareness of food allergies as it unveils a package of free support for retailers.

Bakkavor acknowledges the critical importance of allergen management by adopting a practical and common-sense approach to support its robust food safety standards, ensuring the safety of its products for all customers.

For the fifth year running, Tesco is working with The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, the UK’s food allergy charity, to help raise awareness and support clinical research into food. From Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th April, Allergy Awareness Week, the supermarket will donate 10p from every own-brand Free From product bought in stores and online to the Foundation.

Consumers are concerned about the potential dangers of food allergies. Millions of people must navigate a world where seemingly simple acts can become fraught with danger.

The more we talk about a topic, the more is known – or not. A report on food allergens by High-Speed Training, a private UK company. It presents data from an online YouGov survey conducted with 2,134 UK participants in January 2024.

The report aims to highlight the level of consumer awareness, understanding and impact of food hypersensitivities while also calling for enhanced safety measures within the food industry. Case studies are showcased in the report to help guide other businesses to effectively manage food allergens.

According to the survey results, 84 per cent of consumers believe food allergies are a serious issue while 61 per cent believe food businesses are not doing enough and should enhance their efforts to accommodate food allergies. An even greater proportion (75 per cent) are concerned about complacency around how food allergies are handled. However, 24 per cent believe the issue of food allergies has been exaggerated in recent years, and 50 per cent reportedly think people with allergies are often perceived as fussy or overstating the severity of their condition.

Allergy awareness campaigns are a great way to raise awareness and it’s great to see food companies taking part. It’s important to remember that allergies affect people every day and that allergies are increasing.

We can all play an important role in raising awareness of food allergy – starting this week.

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