Food labelling and information is vital, as it allows customers to make informed choices about the food that they eat.
General advice on food labelling can be obtained from the Food Standards Agency.
The law relating to food labelling is complex, and advice can be obtained from the Trading Standards Team on 01633 648384.
A range of leaflets on food labelling and the law are available from the Trading Standards Institute and Trading Standards Wales
Allergies and Intolerance
Allergies and food intolerance are becoming an increasingly major issue, and one which all caterers need to be aware of.
Food allergy and food intolerance are both types of food sensitivity. When someone has a food allergy, their immune system reacts to a particular food as if it isn't safe. If someone has a severe food allergy, this can cause a life-threatening reaction.
Common allergy provoking foods include cow's milk protein, egg white from hens, wheat, soya bean, codfish and peanuts. In adults, nuts (including brazil nuts, almond, hazelnut, peanut and walnut), fruits (such as peach, apple, strawberry and citrus fruit), and vegetables (such as celery, tomato, onion, garlic and parsley) are common allergens. Seafood such as fish, mussels, crab, prawn, shrimp and squid may also cause allergic reactions.
Anaphylactic shock is the issue that causes the greatest concern, as this can be fatal. Anaphylaxis is a sudden, severe, potentially fatal, systemic allergic reaction. Symptoms occur within minutes to two hours after contact with the allergy-causing substance but, in rare instances, may occur up to four hours later. Peanuts and other nuts are a common cause of Anaphylactic shock, and can occur even where there is just a trace of nuts or nut oil for example.
Caterers need to be aware of the need for good labelling and information, so that anyone suffering from allergies can get the information they need. It is also vital to avoid cross contamination, as even a trace of food in a product that should be safe can be enough to cause illness.
Good sources of information include:
Although deaths from food poisoning often hit the headlines, the level of illness and premature deaths resulting from poor diet is becoming increasingly well known.
Diseases caused or affected by diet include some of the major killers of today – heart disease and many types of cancer, for example. But poor diet and nutrition can also affect the quality of life. Obesity can lead to problems with mobility, whilst a lack of calcium in the diet can lead to brittle bone disease in older women.
The importance of healthy food for young children is now a focus for many of the nutritional policies and strategies being put in place, as this not only helps to protect the health of young people but helps to set a pattern of healthy eating for life. However, every group in society – male or female, young or old, needs to think about the kind of diet that delivers their nutritional needs.
Healthy eating is not just about eating "rabbit food" – although eating 5 items of fruit or vegetables a day is known to bring about health benefits. Often, changing ingredients to healthier options and/or changing the way we cook things can help to make favourite dishes healthier, without us having to change the way in which we eat or do without the foods that we love.
Information on healthy eating is available from a range of sources – but care is needed to ensure that the information is scientifically based. Unfortunately, food and dieting is such big business that biased information and crank diets can be found in bookshops and on the internet.
Reliable sources of information on nutrition include:
Last Modified: 27/02/2023
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