Food allergen information in place ahead of 2014 law


HEALTH BRIEFING:  Food and catering businesses are beginning to provide consumer information about ingredients that may trigger allergic reactions, according to a survey conducted by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

Such labelling will be compulsory from December 2014.

Published yesterday, the audit looked at the type of information provided and the establishment involved.

The three types of allergen declarations included “free from” declarations, “contains allergens” warnings and precautionary allergen labelling.

It showed that a “significant number” of catering businesses were already involved in providing allergen information for their customers, according to Prof Alan Reilly, chief executive of the authority.

The study also showed however that there was a considerable gap in staff awareness of allergens and the necessary controls needed to reduce the risk of cross-contamination of foodstuffs.

This might involve, for example, gluten-free bread being cut with the same cutting board and knife as used for gluten-containing bread, he said.

This lack of awareness suggested that “there is a body of work to be undertaken” to ensure catering staff are able to comply with the new labelling requirements when they came into force, Prof Reilly said.

There are about 30,000 catering businesses in Ireland. The study involved making unannounced visits to 12 establishments. It found that none of the establishments were familiar with all 14 specified allergens which must be labelled from December 2014.

Appearance is worst part of psoriasis for many

HALF OF people living with psoriasis find the social stigma associated with the frequently visible skin condition causes them greater distress than the actual medical symptoms of the illness, new research suggests.An international survey of psoriasis sufferers by the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations (IFPA) found almost half (48 per cent) of people living with psoriasis say that their “fear of what others might think” affects them more than the physical challenge of the condition.

The problem is most acute among women, with 56 per cent saying that their condition has led to “reduced confidence over time” as opposed to 43 per cent of men.

Three quarters (75 per cent) of respondents to the international survey, which included Ireland and was carried out in 13 countries, admitted they avoid situations where their psoriasis would be on view.

Consultant dermatologist Prof Brian Kirby said GPs need to be more aware of the psychological consequences for sufferers. “Doctors, both GPs and specialists, tend to underestimate the psychological impact of having psoriasis. People living with psoriasis need to know that with the right treatment, you can restore your confidence and learn to manage the condition so that it doesn’t interfere with your quality of life,” he said.

The research has been launched ahead of World Psoriasis Day next Monday. A website has been set up in conjunction with the pharmaceutical company Abbott.


Events mark World Prematurity Day

The problems of preterm birth and the downstream health issues it can cause will be highlighted with a number of events to mark World Prematurity Day on November 17th. Talks and presentations and an opportunity to meet parents who have had premature babies have been organised by the Irish Premature Babies group.

To find out more about the charity visit its website, or its Facebook page irishprematurebabies or on Twitter @irish prems