Foodwise (news articles)
01 June 2015
Foodwise issue 37, June 2015
Food Allergy Week, an initiative by Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, ran from 17 – 23 May this year. Food Allergy Week aims to increase awareness and understanding of food allergies and help protect those at risk.
There are over 170 foods now known to have triggered severe allergic reactions. However, 90% of reactions are caused by nine foods – cow’s milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, sesame, soy, shellfish, wheat and fish. It is estimated that up to 2% of adults, 1 in 10 babies* and 6% of children have a food allergy and some of them will experience anaphylaxis – a life-threatening allergic reaction.
President of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, Maria Said, said “Australia has one of the highest reported incidences of food allergies in the world, and 1 in 10 babies* born in Australia today will develop a food allergy.”
“With so many children and adults at risk, ensuring that our wider community can help prevent allergic reactions from occurring, but also recognise the symptoms of a reaction and know what to do in an emergency, is key. Not only does this help in reducing hospitalisation rates, in some cases, it potentially prevents death.”
The food industry has a responsibility to manage food allergens and assist customers with food allergies, by providing accurate food ingredient information and reducing the risk of cross contamination in food preparation.
Food manufacturers are responsible for managing the presence of food allergens and ensuring their products are clearly and accurately labelled.
Food service businesses have a responsibility to keep their customers safe by providing accurate information on the allergen status of products, and ensuring best practice food preparation and storage procedures to avoid cross contamination.
Importers are responsible for ensuring their imports are properly labelled in accordance with Australian labelling legislation and for providing clear and accurate information about the allergen status of their product.
Food labelling laws in Australia state that the 9 most common allergens must be declared on packaging. Gluten and sulphites must also be declared on food labels of packaged foods.
Food business staff play a key role in that they need to understand their obligations and responsibilities to customers, why it is important for people with food allergies to avoid trigger foods and how to respond appropriately when consumers disclose their allergy.
NSW Food Authority and local councils help food businesses to understand their responsibilities and ensure foods are labelled correctly. Food Safety Supervisor training now includes an Allergen Management learning module. There are also a number of resources available to raise awareness of food allergies in your business including the Be Prepared Be Allergy Aware booklet. For more information visit www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au
* Osborne et al. 'Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy using population-based sampling and predetermined challenge criteria in infants.' J Allergy Clin Immunolol 2011; 127: 668-676