Allergy text service goes live


The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has set up an email and SMS text service which will directly inform food allergy sufferers of the presence of allergens in inappropriately labelled foods.

People with allergies or parents of children with allergies can subscribe to receive these alerts via the authority's website

Food allergen alerts will be issued by the authority upon receipt of information that a food product poses a risk to certain consumers' health, due to missing or incorrect allergen labelling. Food allergen alerts will also be issued to enforcement officers and food businesses. This service went live earlier today.

The Food Safety Authority has also announced plans to gather more information on the incidence and type of allergies in Ireland. It is asking people to fill in a short online survey on its website. It has been estimated that some five per cent of children and three per cent of adults have food allergies.

Manufacturers are legally required to declare the presence of specified allergens, when they are used in the manufacture or preparation of pre-packaged food.

However, the Food Safety Authority has criticised the widespread use of label warnings such as 'may contain nuts' or 'manufactured on a line that also uses nuts', saying the warnings were of little benefit to allergy sufferers.

FSAI chief executive Prof Alan Reilly said these labels could "provide a quick fix for those food business operators unwilling or unable to adhere to good manufacturing practices and HACCP controls.

As the use of these labels can unnecessarily restrict the food choices available to allergen sufferers, the FSAI is urging manufacturers to be prudent in their allergen advice and prioritise the needs of allergen sufferers".