BUSINESSES around South Gloucestershire are responding well to their duties to provide informational to their customers about food allergies.

South Gloucestershire Council’s Environmental Health team has found businesses have responded well to their new duties to provide information to customers about food allergens.

All food businesses need to inform customers if any of 14 allergenic ingredients are present in the food they make or serve, by writing on menus or talking to customers about where more information can be found, as part of rules launched in December last year.

The team routinely visits around 100 food businesses, including cafes, pubs and home caterers, in South Gloucestershire each month, and as part of these visits officers check that they are complying with the new legislation.

South Gloucestershire Council’s food team leader, Philippa Griffith, said: “We have been helping local businesses to prepare for this new requirement and many have come to us with specific queries on how best to comply.

“We are pleased that businesses have had this positive attitude. We are shortly sending out further information to all relevant businesses in the area in case there are any outstanding queries.”

Dr Chun-Han Chan, from the Food Standards Agency, said: “Food allergies affect approximately five to eight per cent of children and one to two per cent of adults.

“This means that around two million people in the UK are living with a food allergy. People with food allergies can react to very small amounts of food, such as a teaspoon of yoghurt, a single peanut or even an egg glaze used to brush over pies.

“There is no cure for food allergies, so the only way for people to manage the condition is to avoid the food that makes them ill.

“This is where providing accurate food allergen labelling and information is important, and why food businesses, local authorities and the Food Standards Agency are all working together to ensure consumers have clear and accurate information.”

The 14 allergens that food businesses must be aware of are; celery, cereals containing gluten, crustaceans (including crab, prawns, scampi), eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs, mustard, nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, soya and sulphur dioxide.