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Lawyers call for more protection for people with allergies as new data shows hospital admissions more than doubled over the last 20 years

Food safety lawyers from Leigh Day have renewed their calls for greater regulation to protect those with allergies as new figures show the number of admissions to hospitals in England for allergies and anaphylaxis have more than doubled over the last two decades.

Posted on 28 July 2023

As reported by the Press Association, the drugs regulator the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found there were 25,721 admissions to England’s hospitals for allergies and anaphylaxis in 2022/23, more than double the 12,361 in 2002/03. For food-related anaphylaxis and other adverse reactions, the figures increased from 1,971 admissions in 2002/03 to 5,013 last year an increase of 154%.

Food allergies are the most common cause of life-threatening anaphylaxis which, in the most serious cases, can require a hospital admission. On behalf of its clients who have experienced issues related to food allergies, Leigh Day has been calling for breaches of food safety law to be treated more seriously and for greater regulation to protect those suffering with allergies.

Lawyers from Leigh Day represented the family of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died of anaphylaxis in 2016 after eating a baguette from Pret a Manger containing sesame. After a hard-fought campaign by her parents Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, ‘Natasha’s Law’ was introduced in 2021. This requires food businesses to provide full ingredient labelling on foods pre-packed for direct sale.

However, there are no such regulations protecting allergy sufferers eating in restaurants, where allergen information may be displayed inconsistently. This can often leave allergy sufferers reliant upon the restaurant employees knowledge of allergens within the food displayed on the menu. When not all the ingredients are listed on a menu it can provide a false sense of security for those suffering with allergies who may make informed decisions about the food they are ordering.

Enforcement of food allergy law and policy is currently spread across 353 local authorities and the Food Standards Agency. This can lead to an inconsistent approach when it comes to the scrutiny of food businesses and their allergy management.

Angela Bruno, food safety lawyer at Leigh Day, said:

“The doubling in the number of individuals with allergic reactions requiring hospital treatment in the last 20 years highlights how many lives are at risk on a daily basis. Yet, despite this growing problem, enforcement of food allergy laws and scrutiny of non-compliant food businesses remains inconsistent across the UK. Without more thorough inspections to prevent food safety breaches and effective deterrents, it seems likely that we will continue to see a rise in the number of food allergy sufferers being admitted to hospital. It is time for the safety of people with allergies to be made a priority, with a joined up approach to the care, management and treatment of allergy sufferers.”


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