Food Standards Agency launch young people’s allergy campaign ahead of Valentine’s DayWritten by Anjali Dattani
The FSA (Food Standards Agency) have launched seasonal communications for Valentine’s Day, as an extension of the #easytoASK campaign which took place last summer. Targeting young people living with food allergies and intolerances, they share tips to raise awareness of safe behaviours for the celebration – including steps for booking a restaurant if eating out; or planning an allergy-safe meal, if eating in.
Prominent consumer charities Allergy UK and Anaphylaxis Campaign will be delivering this campaign in partnership with the FSA, and they'll also be working alongside celebrity influencer Jack Fowler (who has a severe nut allergy) to highlight the importance of being confident and speaking out if you live with an allergy/intolerance. A range of partners, such as local authorities, trade bodies and retailers, will share our messages through their own channels, during this week of activity.
Tips for cooking an allergy-friendly Valentine’s meal
Cooking for a partner with food allergy can seem like a daunting task, especially on a romantic occasion like Valentine’s Day, when you want everything to be special and you really don’t want to get it wrong! However, asking a few simple questions and doing some forward planning can help ensure a sweet and safe Valentine meal.
Tip 1: Don’t feel embarrassed about asking your date what they can / cannot eat. People will allergies and intolerances are usually quite clued up on what is safe for them (and will be pleased you asked!).
Tip 2: Allergies cannot be ‘cooked out’, no matter how hard you try.
Tip 3: Check ingredients labels for hidden allergens, like tahini (sesame paste) in hummus, fish in sauces, nuts in cooking oil and milk in gravy mixes.
Tip 4: It’s not only food you need to be careful about. Don’t forget to look out for sulphites in wine if you are planning on serving some.
Tip 5: Prevent cross-contamination. Clean work surfaces and equipment thoroughly to remove traces of anything you might have previously cooked. Using hot and soapy water will do the trick nicely.
Tip 6: Be careful with garnishes, sauces, toppings and dressings that might introduce new allergens into a safe dish – like adding chopped nuts or an egg glaze over pastry.
Tip 7: If your date is allergic to something, simply taking it off their plate isn’t enough. A tiny trace of the allergen (food they must avoid) can be enough to cause an allergic reaction.
Tip 8: There are often good substitutes for allergens in most food shops. Ask your date for suggestions of what to buy, where to find it and what they really enjoy eating.
Tip 9: Enjoy the creative challenge. Rather than seeing your date’s allergy as a limitation, view it as an opportunity to try something new. Great ingredients and the care you have taking in planning a suitable meal your date can enjoy is true romance!
Tip 10: Feeling romantic? Kissing is one way to cause an allergic reaction. Allergenic protein can remain in the mouth for around four hours after eating the food. If you’re dating someone with an allergy, try avoiding the food which makes them ill before your date.
And remember: there is no cure for food allergies – the only way for people to manage the condition is to avoid the food that makes them ill.
Visit https://www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/food-allergy-and-intolerance for more information.