The BBC recently released an article showing that allergies to foods are becoming more and more prevalent worldwide, particularly amongst younger people and children in Western countries. Food allergies now affect about 7% of children in the UK, whilst across Europe, only 2% of adults have food allergies. This needs to be taken seriously by food producers, restaurants and the health service as life-threatening reactions can be prompted even by traces of the trigger foods, meaning patients and families live with fear and anxiety. The dietary restrictions which follow can then become a burden to social and family lives.
Sadly, in recent months we have seen the tragic consequences of improper allergenic information on packaging and contamination of food production, with two deaths, including that of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, caused by reactions to food they ate. This death particularly made the news given the heart-breaking detail surrounding it, an innocent girl ate a baguette that she believed not to contain sesame, a matter of moments later, and after the failure of her EpiPen’s, she was dying. Her father, Nadim, was forced to ring his wife and tell her to say goodbye to her daughter over the phone. In an interview, Nadim stated he said to his wife “You’ve got to say goodbye to her now, don’t lose time. She’s going to die any minute. Say something. Do it right now. She might hear it.”. Natasha died, whilst her father and other airport staff were helpless to aid her.
As shocking as this is, and as difficult it is to read, this is the reality for many people across the UK. For those who suffer with these allergies, they are one mislabelled or contaminated product away from a life or death scenario. It is important then that awareness and knowledge are raised of these issues, and that those in the food industry learn to ensure such tragedies do not happen again.
At Healthy Nibbles, we offer a selection of snacks and services specifically designed to avoid the most common types of allergies so that people can snack healthily without the worry and anxiety of having a reaction. For example; our vending machines can be made entirely nut free, our snack boxes are able to cater for any allergy or intolerance, and even when selecting snacks from our vending machines it is possible to do so exclusively based on allergenic information.
This is only possible because some of our incredible suppliers have taken it upon themselves to offer healthier and allergy-free choices. Julianne Ponan, the founder of Creative Nature is one of them. She herself suffers from anaphylaxis and started her business based upon the lack of healthy options in the market and with a vision of creating a bar that wouldn't pose a risk to herself and others with her condition. “I started making my own healthy snacks out of frustration at the lack of nut-free products in the market that weren’t packed with additives. I suffer from anaphylaxis to all nuts, some seeds and certain additives, so finding a healthy snack that didn’t cause me to stop breathing was a challenge! That’s when I decided to create my own.”. Recently she has featured on Sky News raising awareness of anaphylaxis and how hard it can be for people like herself to eat ‘normally’.
Even in our office, members of staff have spoken anecdotally about friends with severe allergies and how hard day to day things such as eating out for them can be. This is why we feel it is crucial for everyone in the food industry to be aware of how severe allergies can be and take action to help people who suffer from anaphylaxis. With the number of people having allergies on the rise, and cases such as Natasha’s being so serious, it is something; offices, schools, gyms, restaurants, and anywhere where food is available to people must make provisions for.
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