Restaurants and takeaways across Europe will be required by law to tell customers if their food contains ingredients known to trigger allergies.
Staff must provide information on 14 allergens including nuts, milk, celery, gluten, soya and wheat.
The new measures, which come into force on Saturday, cover meals served in bakeries, cafes, care homes and packaged produce sold by supermarkets.There may be fines for repeat offenders.According to the European Academy of Allergy, food allergies affect more than 17 million people across Europe.
Some five thousand people need treatment in hospital for severe allergic reactions each year in the UK, and some cases are fatal – causing an average of 10 deaths annually.
Experts say the majority of these deaths and visits to hospital are avoidable, and some are a result of people being given incorrect information about ingredients.
Under the new legislation (EU FIC Food Information for Consumers Regulation), customers must be told if their food contains any of the following: eggs, fish, shellfish, molluscs and soya.
Oliver Bolland from Hertfordshire says: “My allergies really became a problem when I became an adult – I can’t just pop out for a meal with my girlfriend, friends or family. “I had six allergic reactions in the course of a month last year . “Often, waiters don’t take my allergies seriously, or they don’t know what ingredients are in their dishes.(BBC) “I’ve had to leave important events, including a close friend’s wedding, because the waiter didn’t check exactly what was in the food and thought I was just being fussy.
“I’ll always have to be careful about not accidentally eating something I’m allergic to, but now restaurants and takeaways can no longer say they’re not sure whether I can eat something, or that it’s probably fine. “This new law will make a huge difference to my life.” (BBC)