Food businesses and restaurant owners will have to be more vigilant than ever before as local authorities ramp up food safeguards and allergen protection for consumers, it has been reported.
It is hoped that the step-up in safety will allow for the delivery of a better system of control to ensure a higher level of confidence in UK food.
Currently, there are roughly two million people living with a diagnosed food allergy in the UK, 600,000 of whom are coeliac and intolerant to gluten. According to the director of policy at the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Steve Wearne, the only way to manage food allergy or intolerance is to observe a strict avoidance diet.
In March, the FSA said that it would not take its foot off the food safety accelerator and there were no plans to allow any sort of self-regulation of food businesses.
The FSA said that there was a need for increased attention around the control of allergens in food, calling for further research to be commissioned into the understanding, prevalence and characteristics of allergies in adults.
Chairwoman of the FSA, Heather Hancock, commented: “Our ambition in doing this is not to loosen the reins. This is about our ownership, maintenance and the driving forward of food standards and public protection.”
It is believed that additional research would help decide future science and policy priorities. According to the FSA, providing clearer and reliable allergy information about food allergies and intolerances to businesses and consumers was “critical” for public trust in food and preventing illnesses.
In 2016, one in four people suffered an allergic reaction while eating in a pub, even when protective measures were in place, like the Food Information Consumer regulations that were enforced in 2014.
Mr Wearne also said: “Access to allergen information is an important area of interest for allergic consumers; this covers what allergens are declared on prepacked foods and non-prepacked foods.”