It’s astonishing what a difference losing just one allergy can make – previously I struggled to find anything worth buying in Marks & Spencer and couldn’t see why others raved about their allergen labelling. Gluten free foods contained eggs and everything else was plastered with nut and sesame warnings.
Now I can better appreciate the efforts they have gone to to cater for allergies: their website is explicit that anything featuring a ‘may contain’ label does so because of very real risks. And anything without a warning is manufactured in a controlled environment free from the dreaded allergen – so no need to triple check each item at every turn.
As well as our carb stash of breads and pizza I was astonished to find egg and nut free ice cream, cocoa powder and olives – among the most problematic items when it comes to avoiding cross contamination.
This is all v good news. But so much more needs to be done to cater for children and adults with multiple allergies – if you’re gluten free, there’s plenty out there. Add nuts to the mix and it gets complicated. Add egg and you’ve barely a hope. Add dairy and you’re buggered. The fact is that ten per cent of children and adults under 45 have two or more allergies. And it’s not getting any better: by 2015, an astonishing 50 per cent of Europeans will suffer from an allergy.
We have been lucky enough to shed one allergy (well, two, if you count banana), which has made things that bit easier, but in most places it’s still a head-bashingly impossible task to find one thing – just one thing – for Sidney to eat. Manufacturers and shops are improving beyond recognition but there is still a very long way to go.
Anyway, yada yada. Back home last night we unpacked our haul and his lamb stew tea had HALF A PITTA on the side! He wanted to follow it up with a plate of his new pasta and a slice of toast but I drew the line. We’ve waited two and a half years; he can hang on a day or two for the rest…
Update: P.S. We just had probably our first near-miss. Today – and he says it’s OK for me to blab – husband almost gave Sidney a pitta bread with a nuts and sesame trace warning for lunch, thinking it was one of our haul from yesterday.
I think from now on the rule (other than JUST BLOODY READ THE LABEL) has to be only Sidney-safe bread in the house. When he was wheat free it was dead easy to tell them apart. Now it’s fraught with potential confusion and we can’t risk that.