National Allergy Week 2012

This week marks National Allergy Week 2012, an annual scheme from Allergy UK to raise awareness of the prominence of both food and non-food allergies. It is thought that 21 million people in the UK now suffer with at least one allergy, and 45% are estimated to be intolerant to anything from wheat to dairy (Mintel, 2010).

With that in mind, it’s important for people with allergies and intolerances to be particularly careful about what they eat, as consuming the wrong things could lead to anything from minor issues such as an upset stomach to potentially fatal reactions like anaphylactic shock.

As the number of Brits affected by allergies and intolerances continues to grow, it’s refreshing to see a growing number of supermarkets and food manufacturers are developing their own ‘Free From’ ranges, along with providing dedicated shelf space for special diet foods.

Marks and Spencer are the latest to get in on the act with their ‘Made without Wheat range now extending to offer loaves of bread, luxury hot cross buns, crumpets, cakes and sandwiches. While these are not yet available in every store, you can order all of these gluten free products online. They also offer a range of own brand soya products for dairy allergies, lactose intolerance and vegans alike.

Living gluten free doesn't have to be taste free with the M&S Made Without Wheat range
Living gluten free doesn't have to be taste free with the M&S Made Without Wheat range

Other great resources for finding ‘Free From’ ingredients are Goodness Direct and Totally Nourish as well as the leading supermarkets.

If you believe you or someone you know may be allergic to a food it is important to seek medical advice from your GP who can refer you for allergy testing. Food intolerances can be picked up through intolerance testing kits such as those offered by York Test Laboratories and Know Your Body.

Over the coming weeks I will try to build up my Special Diets page to provide more information for those with food allergies and intolerances, with facts about common allergies such as coeliac disease, as well as practical advice for finding tasty and affordable substitutes. Please get in touch if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see.

 Do you suffer with food allergies? Where do you buy ‘Free From’ foods?

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