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Have food allergies? Life's going to get a little easier for you next month

New labelling laws covering loose food will be introduced next month.

Image: Bagels via Shutterstock

IF YOU SUFFER from food allergies, life is going to get a little easier for you in the run-up to Christmas.

That’s because new laws are being brought in by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar that mean that specific allergens – including peanuts, gluten, shellfish and dairy products – have to be clearly labelled on all loose food.

The new labelling is to kick in from this December.

From then, you’ll be able to see if these items could have contaminated loose food:

  • Cereals containing gluten
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Soybean products
  • Milk
  •  Nuts including peanuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews and other common types
  • Celery
  • Mustard
  • Sesame seeds

The law comes into effect from December 13, as required under EU regulations.

What do the regulations cover?

Everything from loose food in shops, to food sold in restaurants, pubs, takeaways, contract caterers, food stalls, as well as food being delivered.

Minister Varadkar described this as a “significant measure for people who suffer from allergies to some of the most common food products”.

Although allergens already have to be declared on prepacked food, there is no such requirement for loose or non-prepacked products. The impact of allergens on sufferers can range from irritation, to a life-threatening reaction.

Prof Alan Reilly, Chief Executive, Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said that the objective of this new legislation is to prevent people who have an established food allergy or food intolerance from purchasing or eating a food product which may be detrimental to their health.

The FSAI has produced a guidance document and an information booklet for the food industry on these new laws. It’s freely available on its website, while its advice line (1890 336677) is also open.

The 14 food allergens which are specified under EU law will now have to be detailed on all loose food, including food sold in loose quantities, fresh food which has not been pre-packed, and food prepared in food businesses such as restaurants, caterers or institutions. It also covers food purchased on the internet.

The legislation will be enforced by Environmental Health Officers under contract to the FSAI.

Do you welcome this news?

Read: Opinion: Hold the gluten please! Why we all need to understand coeliac disease>

Read: Got a nut allergy and due to fly? Here’s what you can do>

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