Families have often asked us “Where or how do I report an allergic reaction?” If it was caused by something your child ate out and about, it’s always a good idea to phone or email the venue directly to alert them. We understand that sometimes this can be upsetting or feel uncomfortable but it’s important to help prevent future incidents.
The Food Standards Agency is also testing out a new way to report allergic reactions and ‘near misses’ that happen after eating food in places like cafes, restaurants, pubs, sandwich shops and take-aways. It’s an online tool allowing you to report incidents anonymously.
The FSA wants lots of people to take part in the trial to improve its research and has asked us to ask you to help spread the word.
We think this could be a great way of increasing awareness and understanding of allergic reactions caused by food. We also understand that families can be left feeling anxious after an allergic reaction, if you’re looking for information or support, we have lots of resources to help.
What is the online reporting tool?
It is a simple questionnaire form on the Food Standards Agency website. You will be asked for details about the allergic reaction you have experienced but you will not be asked to give any information that would identify you or the food business where the reaction, or near miss, took place.
We would advise that you prioritise medical care first, and then report the incident as soon as possible.
Who can report a reaction?
The FSA is asking people with food allergies, food intolerances and coeliac disease to use the tool. You can report a reaction you have experienced yourself or on behalf of someone you care for.
What should I report?
Reactions and near misses should be reported.
Only incidents which took place from the start of January 2021 onwards will be analysed.
The FSA says you should not report reactions or near misses if you made the decision to eat a food you know that you are allergic or intolerant to.
What counts as a near miss?
The FSA describes a near miss as “an instance where food or drink containing an ingredient that you are sensitive to was almost consumed – but you realised the ingredient was present before consuming it.” The examples below have been provided by the FSA:
1. You have a pecan allergy. You are in a café and order a slice of cake. You ask the server if the cake contains pecans but they inform you that it is nut-free, so you order a slice. However, when the cake arrives, you can clearly see that there are pecans sprinkled on the top so you send it back. This could have resulted in a reaction so is regarded as a ‘near miss.’
2. Your daughter has an allergy to dried fruits. You are both out at a restaurant and she orders curry but when the curry is served she realises there are raisins in it so she sends it back to the kitchen. This could have resulted in a reaction so is regarded as a ‘near miss.’
What will happen to data submitted via the reporting tool?
This is a trial and the FSA will not use the tool to take enforcement action against any food business or person.
The trial will run until February 2022 and the FSA says “data collected through this proof-of-concept tool will help inform any future development, target research and help to produce effective government policy. It will be deleted on completion of the project.”