20 September 2021| | 3 min read
Takeaway lovers urged to be more allergy aware
Curry connoisseurs and fish and chip fans are being urged to be more allergy aware as our taste for takeaways outlasts the Covid lockdowns.
Even as the chance to dine out has returned, demand for home deliveries has continued to grow, with national research finding nearly a quarter of people are spending more on them now than before the pandemic.
However the Food Standards Agency fears that some food allergy sufferers – particularly teenagers – feel embarrassed by their intolerances, and are risking grave consequences by not making sure what they order is safe.
Now, as thousands of students arrive in the city for the autumn term, Newcastle City Council is working with Newcastle and Northumbria universities and the North East Ambulance Service to make sure that awkwardness doesn’t lead to someone being put at risk.
Speak up and never be complacent
Cllr Linda Hobson, Cabinet member for housing and regulatory services, said: “Each year our food safety team receive numerous reports of potentially serious allergen related incidents, and in 2020 that unfortunately included the death of a young man.
“With eating-in seemingly continuing to be the new eating out, it is vital that if you, your friends or family have a food allergy to never be complacent and to speak to the restaurant every time you make an order.
“Even if it’s a meal you’ve eaten before, ingredients, recipes and staff can change and if you are not confident in the food you are ordering then please find an alternative place to order from – It could save your life.”
Top tips to be allergy aware
The majority of the allergy reports to the council’s food safety team relate to 17 to 30-year-olds ordering takeaways or food in bars and nightclubs, and so authorities are working together to offer top tips to students to keep themselves and others safe:
- Be allergy aware – Find out if anyone in the group you’re ordering for has a food allergy.
- Speak to the restaurant every time – If ordering by app, don’t rely on the in-app messaging service. Call the restaurant directly and make sure they understand the allergy. Remember to ask, even when ordering the usual, because the recipe, ingredients, chef or kitchen staff may have changed.
- Be clear – Give examples of food that could cause a reaction and be clear about the allergy.
- Ask the restaurant to label the allergy-safe meal – Make sure the container will be labelled so that it’s clear when the meal arrives and there’s no risk of cross-contamination.
- Follow your instincts – If the person you’re ordering from doesn’t understand the allergy or intolerance, ask to speak to the manager. If you still don’t feel confident, consider ordering elsewhere.
- Don’t feel embarrassed – There is no need to feel awkward asking about allergy. Food business are legally required to make allergen information available when you order and when the food is delivered.
What the universities say
Sue Broadbent, head of student life and wellbeing at Northumbria University: “It’s really important for everyone to understand what is in the food they are eating, particularly if they are experiencing new cuisines for the first time.
“We ask all our students to make sure they look out for each other and would encourage them to let each other know if they have allergies, as it could avoid a terrible accident.”
Julia Taylor, head of hospitality and commercial services at Newcastle University, said: “Working together with our partners from across the city will help us minimise the risks associated with food allergies and continue providing the safest possible catering and hospitality services.
“We offer a range of fresh, healthy food for our students, staff and visitors to enjoy. All meals served in our outlets and packaged products already have allergen information available and displayed.
“Soon we will also have QR codes displaying a link to our allergen information web pages. We encourage our customers to speak to colleagues if they have a food allergy or if they would like specific information on the ingredients.”
Find out more
For more information about being allergy aware visit www.newcastle.gov.uk/foodsafety