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Experts warn of risks to public health.
The BBC have reported a concerning drop in food safety inspections carried out by local authorities between 2003 and 2014. After a freedom of information request to the Food Standards Agency, Prof Steve Tombs for the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies found that 47,000 less inspections were carried out in 2014 than in 2003. The number of establishments prosecuted also fell in the same period by 35%, yet levels of complaints are believed to be increasing. To read more, click here.
UK Food Safety Incidents
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have published its list of the food incidents in handled in quarter 1 of 2016. In total 49 food safety incidents warranted their involvement, of which 24 were allergen related. Interestingly, the majority of these were linked to undeclared milk allergens in food, despite the fact that milk is the most frequently experienced allergen and intolerance in the UK even though, not gluten/wheat or peanuts.
8% of the UK population experience a dairy allergy and 12% of UK households experience a dairy intolerance, whereas with dairy 7% of the UK population have an allergy and 10% of UK households experiencing an intolerance. This drops to 5% of the UK experiencing a peanut allergy or intolerance. (YouGov)
Positive results but more needs to be done
A survey by the Food Standards Agency and Allergy UK shows there have been improvements for those with allergies since the labelling legislation but improvements still need to be made.
The survey found that 83% of respondents had recognised an improvement in the measures being taken to improve the lives of customers with allergies including staff actively checking out food information with the kitchen, 52% also claimed they felt more confident eating out as a result of the new legislation.
Despite the new confidence experienced by consumers, problems are still arising. More than two thirds of respondents stated that staff didn’t understand the severity of an allergy and a similar number displaying insufficient understanding of the menu and ingredients. 55% cited that they had been made to feel like an inconvenience because of their allergy. The complete report can be accessed here.