WIGAN health bosses have urged folk to think twice about food purchases amid fears of potentially deadly reactions.
As part of Allergy Awareness Week, NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (WBCCG) has teamed up with the council to ensure residents are clued up on just what’s in their meals.
One in four people suffer at some point in their lives with numbers increasing every year and up to half of those affected are childrenDr Tim Dalton
Alan Blundell, assistant director for regulation, said those with food allergies should ensure, when ordering a meal or takeaway, that they tell the business.
He added: “If you can’t be sure that dishes are free from allergens such as peanuts, it’s safer to avoid eating it. If in doubt, don’t eat it! Recent checks carried out by the Business Compliance and Improvement Team have shown that even takeaway meals sold as peanut-free may contain a small amount of peanut.”
The awareness week was created by charity Allergy UK to help raise awareness and support the estimated 21 million allergy sufferers in the UK.
And Wigan folk know that some can pay the ultimate price.
In January former Winstanley College student Shahida Shahid, died in hospital from what was thought to be an allergic reaction to food which caused brain damage.
An inquest at Manchester Coroner’s Court heard the 18-year-old was said to have told staff at the Almost Famous burger restaurant in Manchester about her food allergies before eating there.
New laws from December 2014 require all food businesses to inform customers if allergenic ingredients are present in the food they make or serve.
This helps consumers to make choices about the food they eat.
Eateries such as cafes, takeaways, restaurants and sandwich shops must now tell customers what allergens the food they are serving contains.
Wigan Council has been supporting local businesses to comply with the new requirements and helping to raise awareness.
Dr Tim Dalton, local GP and Chair of WBCCG, said: “Allergies are very common. The most common triggers are usually grass and tree pollen; dust mites, mould spores, exposure to pets and food allergies. Symptoms include sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes, skin rashes and swelling.
“One in four people suffer at some point in their lives with numbers increasing every year and up to half of those affected are children. The reason for the rise is unclear. Some experts believe it is associated with pollution, others feel that it is caused by living in a germ-free environment.
“It makes sense to visit your local pharmacist for help if you have a mild or seasonal allergy such as hay fever. There are several medications available from your pharmacist that will help you control the symptoms of many common allergies.
“However, if your allergy is affecting your daily life on a long term basis then please make an appointment to see your GP. Depending on your symptoms, the condition of your skin and any medication you are taking, your GP may discuss other options to care for your condition differently.”