Food allergy reporting tool aims to improve policymaking

Written by Sam Trendall on 5 November 2021 in News
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Safety regulator runs proof-of-concept exercise for online platform

Credit: Marko Milivojevic on Pixnio

The UK’s food standards watchdog hopes that a new online tool through which citizens can report food allergies and intolerances can help improve policy development.

The website of regulator the Food Standards Agency now contains a platform through which people can report a reaction they have had to a foodstuff due to an allergy, intolerance, or coeliac disease. Near misses – defined as “an instance where food or drink containing an ingredient that you are sensitive to was almost consumed, but you realised the ingredient was present before consuming” – can also be reported.

The online service is initially being run on a proof-of-concept basis until February 2022, and information submitted will not be used to support any enforcement actions against shops or restaurants. 

The intent, rather, is to gather data which the FSA hopes could "help inform any future development, target research and help to produce effective government policy”.


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“The FSA are committed to improving the quality of life for people living with food allergies, intolerances and coeliac disease, by increasing their understanding of reactions and near misses,” the watchdog said, in a statement. 

Citizens can use the platform to report their own reactions and near misses, or do so on behalf of someone else. 

The service first asks users to provide information on their year of birth, ethnic background, whether they suffer from any allergies, intolerances or from coeliac disease, and how their condition was diagnosed. 

The platform then asks for information on when the incident occurred, in which country and type of establishment, and how the food reached them; it also offers users the opportunity to attribute it to one of a range of causes – such as incorrect or unclear labelling, or a request being misunderstood – and select one or more of the 14 allergens that were consumed, or nearly consumed.

Finally, the site asks for feedback on where the user heard about the service, and whether they found the process satisfactory.

 

About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology. He can be reached on sam.trendall@dodsgroup.com.

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