how common are food allergies and food intolerances?
Food allergy is believed to affect approximately 2% of adults and 6-8% of children. Around 20% of the adult population feel that they have a food allergy or food intolerance.
It is now much easier for people to identify and avoid the major food allergens thanks to changes in EU labelling legislation, which came into force in November 2003.
An agreed list of food allergens was established and, if these are used in a products, it must say so on the packaging. The list states ingredients which are considered to be the main triggers of allergic reactions including:
- Cereals containing gluten (i.e. wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut)
- Milk (including lactose)
- Sesame seeds
- Sulphur dioxides and sulphites (over a certain concentration)
At the end of 2007 molluscs and lupin were also added to the list.
This legislation applies to all pre-packaged food products and the allergen labelling requirement extends to processing aids, carriers and additives. For people with food allergies and intolerances this legislation is vital in ensuring that packaging is labelled correctly and it is why, if you have a food allergy, it is vital that you read the product packaging.
What is food hypersensitivity?
What to do if you think you have a food allergy or food intolerance
Wheat hypersensitivity - wheat allergy and wheat intolerance
Wheat hypersensitivity and specific conditions