Food allergen warnings

Label warnings that foods ‘may’ be contaminated with allergens are driving some consumers nuts – and putting them at risk of allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock.
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04. Anaphylactic shock


“Food labelling in Australia has made great strides and is leading the world,” says Maria Said from Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia.“But the danger for people at risk of anaphylaxis lies less with labelling than with the food service industry, schools, and in private homes, where poor communication and/or lack of understanding of the risks can lead to severe and, sometimes fatal, reactions.

In 2012, an eight-year-old girl with a milk allergy died when given a piece of cake that she was told contained no milk.”

Many people in the food service industry don’t understand that when a customer says they have an allergy, it is illegal to serve them food containing allergens.

Said cites an incident in NSW where a man with a milk allergy was served a meal with cheese. He asked for a replacement dish containing no milk products, but was allegedly served the same dish again, suffered anaphylactic shock and was hospitalised.

“State health authorities responsible for enforcing Food Standards regulations are overloaded, and the council inspectors who investigate events often aren’t trained to investigate food allergy incidents properly,” she says.

Said is calling for the food service industry to acknowledge food allergy as a serious safety issue as well as for for a national allergy management education plan.

“Allergic reactions happen all the time. People must report the events to the state food authorities to be investigated. This will help raise awareness of the problem.”



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