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Food allergy solicitor calls for clear allergen labelling following NHS allergy figures

Food allergy solicitor calls for clear allergen labelling after NHS figures show a 72% rise of hospital admissions for children with severe allergic reactions in the last five years.

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15 November 2019

Michelle Victor, who represents the families of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and Owen Carey, has called for clear allergen labelling on food and for the Government to invest in further research and consider further legislative changes to safeguard allergy sufferers.

The figures, obtained by a foundation set up by the parents of Natasha, show that in 2018 to 2019 there were 1,746 hospital admissions for anaphylactic shock, a 72% rise from 1,015 admissions in 2013 to 2014. There has also been a 34% rise in adults, which there being 5,497 cases.

Fifteen-year-old Natasha died in July 2016 after eating a Pret a Manger baguette containing sesame to which she was severely allergic. There was no indication on the packaging of the baguette that sesame seeds had been baked into the dough.

Her parents have campaigned for a change in the law around food labelling and in June the Government announced "Natasha's Law" will come into force in 2021.

Owen had a number of allergies, including dairy and on his visit to Byron Burger he had eaten a grilled chicken breast without a bun. He had no idea that the chicken had been marinated in buttermilk, which triggered an allergic reaction that led to his death. 

His family are calling for urgent change in the law so that restaurants are compelled to provide clear and prominent allergen information for each dish on the face of the menu and for staff to be required to proactively ask diners if they have allergies.

Michelle Victor from the specialist food allergy team at Leigh Day, who represents the family of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and Owen Carey, said:

“A 72% rise in hospital admissions over the past five years for children with severe allergic reactions is startling and appears like we are in the midst of an allergy epidemic. 

“It is therefore imperative that we have a better understanding of why severe allergic reactions are happening. Clear allergen labelling on food is key to ensure there is transparency in terms of what’s in the food we are eating because a mistake could be fatal. 

“It’s time the Government invest in further research and consider further legislative changes are implemented to safeguard those with allergies as one fatality caused by food induced anaphylaxis is one death too many.”

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