Tuesday 4 December 2018

A label can save a life

Card from ©Stickman Communications

There's been a lot in the news and on television lately about allergies and food labelling. 

Having an allergy to milk myself and intolerances to several foods including wheat, gluten and soya I have to careful with what I eat an drink. Because of this I rarely eat out and I often stick to the drinks I know I can have but it's very restrictive. 

Often when I ask for allergy information in cafés and restaurants staff either check for me or I'm given a book to check myself. Some of these books are easy to read and others are just so mind boggling to work out. 

With the recent allergy talk especially watching BBC's Watchdog and Tonight's: Food Allergies: What's Really in You Food?and finding out that not all cafés and restaurants are giving out current information it worries me and it makes me feel even more restricted because I wonder if I can trust the information I'm getting especially as I've often found that one time I can find something suitable that I can eat and then the ingredients in the food will have changed making it unsuitable so every time I double check even familiar things incase the ingredients have been changed. 

It's even more restrictive when you have multiple allergies and intolerances as one thing may be wheat free but it contains milk. I don't want to just stick to black coffee all the time and I should have a right to a choice when I eat and drink out and feel safe in the knowledge that I'm not going to fall ill.

I've grown up with my milk allergy since birth so I've gotten to  know the hidden allergens, e.g. whey powder as an example and adapting recipes when cooking. But not all places when you eat out understand that something like whey powder or margarine is a milk product.

It would be some much easier is menu's and food products had clear labelling saying "This products contains ______" and also staff being trained on knowing what in food and drink products or the allergy books where easier to read. Hopefully the law will change to make this compulsory and make it easier for allergy suffers to eat and drink safely and feel more able to eat and drink out.