Authors: Sarah FOX, Graeme MITCHELL, Michael PASCUCILLA
Corresponding author: Graeme Mitchell
Type of paper: Original scientific article
Issue: Volume 12 | number 1 – 2018
With the number of people suffering from food allergies increasing globally and food allergies accounting for more hospital admissions than food borne diseases, food allergens pose a significant public health threat. In december 2014, the European Union (EU) introduced legislation which aimed to ensure that customers with food allergens could make informed choices and safely consume food, without the risk of a potentially life-threatening reaction. Using a questionnaire and allergen audit (designed to provide a consistent and standardised means of measuring food safety practices within food businesses), the aim of the research was to explore the awareness, understanding and practices of 21 randomly selected food business in the Borough of Knowsley, located in the North West of England.
The findings revealed a significant gap between the level of confidence expressed by food business owners and their practices and understanding. Whilst all (n=21) felt confident in providing a safe meal and 90% (n=18) were aware of the need display allergen information, none of the food businesses owners demonstrated a high level of allergen control in their premises and 43% (n=9) did not display any allergen information within their premises. In addition, the research established that there appeared to be no direct link between the levels of food hygiene found in a food business and the awareness and practice of the food business owner regarding food allergens. This gap leaves customers exposed to a significant level of risk, as it appears that the confidence food business owners have in producing a safe meal is misplaced.