With an increase in the prevalance of food allergies, it is important to know how safe you are when eating away from home or at restaurants

New advice for consumers and small food businesses about eating out with food allergies was launched at the recent Food Safety Conference in Melbourne.

Maria Said, President of Anaphylaxis Australia, said that most people who have lost their lives in recent years as a result of food anaphylaxis have eaten food purchased, or given to them, when away from home.

“With the increase in prevalence of food allergy we now have more people at risk of life threatening reactions depending on safe food purchases. Risk can never be totally removed but it can be greatly reduced if we work together to educate those in the food service sector as well as those at risk.”

Studies showed that reactions in cafés and restaurants are often caused by lack of staff education about food allergy. While those with food allergy are responsible for their management, it is important to note those serving their food have responsibilities too.

“Most fatalities resulting from allergic reactions are preventable. Education goes a long way to save lives of those at risk. While there can be no absolute guarantees that a food purchased when eating out is safe, outlets need to have systems in place so that those with food allergy can make informed decisions.”

“It’s a public health issue that is on the rise. Education for all is key, so those at risk can lead close to normal lives,” said Ms Said.

When eating out, if you are at risk of a severe reaction, always: plan ahead and speak to the manager or chef before arrival if possible; disclose your food allergy (if you are one of the many adults who may be at risk of anaphylaxis seek medical advice and be properly diagnosed); carry your Anaphylaxis Action Plan and your adrenaline auto injector with you – if you don’t have your injector with you don’t eat; ensure the people you are with at that time are aware of your allergy, what a severe reaction might look like and how to give the life-saving adrenaline auto injector. If you run or work in a food business always: · let the customer make a decision about a menu purchase once you have given them the required information; · take no short cuts or change set menu ingredients; · take food allergy seriously; small amounts can cause life threatening reactions; · think about cross-contamination when purchasing, storing, preparing and serving food. These steps can help keep those with life threatening allergies safe, in particular teenagers and young people (13-21 years) who represent nearly 70 percent of food-allergic fatalities.

For more information on the new consumer and food business advice including the ‘Eating out with food allergy’ brochure and the new instructional CD Rom for food service facilities visiw http://www.allergyfacts.com.au/

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