‘Natasha’s Law’ – a group response

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Earlier this year, the Food Standards Agency and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) announced a public consultation on proposed changes to the allergen labelling laws in the wake of the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse. Printed below is a group response submitted to that consultation and signed by more than 200 members of the allergy community.

A little background: the consultation relates only to so-called ‘PPDS’ establishments – Pre-Packed for Direct Sale. This doesn’t have a completely clear-cut definition but basically means anywhere that makes and packages items ready for sale on the premises.

That includes sandwiches packed on-site and taken by the consumer from a chiller cabinet; salads displayed in deli boxes behind a counter and bought to take away by the consumer; takeaway items collected by the consumer if displayed in packaging on-site (e.g. chicken in a box; wrapped burgers). This may also include supermarket foods such as deli counter boxed salads, weighed and packaged cheeses; fresh (uncooked) pizzas from the deli counter; baked goods from a bakery counter.

It doesn’t include foods that are ordered by the customer, prepared freshly and then wrapped or packaged to be taken away; or foods that are prepared in advance of a rush, displayed on the counter but not wrapped until they are bought by the consumer (e.g. a pile of filled bagels in a cafe).

Anyway, here goes (warning: it’s long)… *deep breath*:

Allergen Labelling Review Team
Defra
Room 202, Zone 2
1-2 Peasholme Green
York
YO1 7PX                                                                                                28 March 2019

Group Response to Allergen Labelling Review

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing as the informal representative of a group of 208 individuals who have come together under the banner of the Twitter allergy community @allergyhour to respond collectively to the DEFRA Allergen Labelling Review.

Continue reading “‘Natasha’s Law’ – a group response”

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Top 10 allergy friendly places to eat (2014)

IMG_9028SO, here it is – my run-down of our top allergy friendly meals out in 2014. A bit late, but timely in the aftermath of the ‘100 chefs rant against EU allergy laws’ thing. I’ve been tweeting my thoughts on this for a week, and am frankly bored of the moaning. Compelling caterers to declare which allergens are in their dishes doesn’t make anywhere more able, or likely, to cater for us, but it’s a first step on the road to greater understanding. It means that at least we have the right to ask, and to be told. I think that’s fair enough.

Anyway, enough about that. From never having the confidence to allow anyone bar family to cook for Sidney, in this past year we’ve managed to find a clutch of places happy, willing and able to cater for his multiple allergies. They are living proof that it is possible and, for that, I love them longtime.

So, in no particular order, here we go: Continue reading “Top 10 allergy friendly places to eat (2014)”

Eating out with allergies: the ‘rules’

IMG_1611THERE I WAS, poised to press ‘publish’ on my next post: our top 10 allergy friendly places to eat from 2014. Finding safe spots is never easy, but over the past year we’ve clocked up a few favourites.

Then I realised I should probably preface this post with The Rules. They are the steps we take, and the key things we consider, whenever we eat out. I’m sure others will have more to add, but this is simply how we go about things. Here goes:

* I always ring and email in advance to check the manager and chef are aware, and in some cases we pre-order our meal. It starts as a sussing-out call – do they sound as if they know what they’re doing? If not, forget it. If they do, I’ll go into greater detail, stress that we need the food to be prepped free from cross-contamination, and find out what dishes are likely to be safe for Sidney to eat. I’ll usually summarise the allergies and what we’ve mutually agreed in an email before our booking date. If nothing else, it’s only fair to give a place advance warning where possible and to explain fully what we’re after. Continue reading “Eating out with allergies: the ‘rules’”

Brave new world & breadsticks

DSC_0456NEWS that a posho West End restaurant has been forced to close its doors wouldn’t usually fill me with glumness. But, oh, how I am bemoaning the loss – temporary or not – of Locanda Locatelli.

The celebrated Portman Square hangout has been left homeless following a gas explosion in the five-star Hyatt Regency Churchill hotel that houses it.

And now its chef-patron, Giorgio Locatelli, says he may abandon the site and try to re-open elsewhere.

So why my gloom? Well, because a visit to Locanda Locatelli last year marked the beginning of a brave new world for us as a family. It’s where we ate our first meal out, fully catered for Sidney. Continue reading “Brave new world & breadsticks”

The dishes I wishes

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Sweet potato fries – a simple allergy free option

WHEN I FIRST turned vegetarian about, ooh, 28 years ago (gulp) it was pretty standard fare when eating out to get pizza with holes in it where the salami had been picked off, a plate of peas and potatoes while everyone else chomped on chicken and more baked beans than you could shake a farty stick at.

And in truth it’s only been in fairly recent times – say, the last five to ten years – that I haven’t always been faced with the same bloody meal every time I eat out.

Continue reading “The dishes I wishes”

The catering conundrum (and some easy steps)

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Get that pinny on and get scrubbing

THE BATTLE to convince more people to cater for food allergies is double-edged.

On the one hand, you want to stress how simple it can be – some common sense, a clean kitchen, clean utensils and being scrupulous about ingredients does the trick. On the other hand, it’s vital to stress how dangerous it can be if those simple processes aren’t undertaken properly.

I understand why many run scared. Legally, it’s virtually impossible for anyone to describe their premises as 100 per cent guaranteed ‘nut free’. But, as our visit to Higher Lank Farm proved, it is possible to cater safely for both allergic and non-allergic guests.

Continue reading “The catering conundrum (and some easy steps)”