Allergy Awareness Week 2023 in Parliament

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Allergy Awareness Week 2023 in Parliament

This week (May 14th-May 21st) marks food allergy awareness week. The UK has on of the highest allergy rates in the world, with one third, 20 million people across the UK living with an allergic condition and Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham has always been a strong advocate of allergy awareness. Jon is currently the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Allergies.

Food allergy awareness week aims to highlight the importance of inclusivity for those with food allergies with 20% of the population have a food hyper-sensitivity, Cow’s Milk causing up to 19% of food-induced anaphylactic cases. Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham spoke in Parliament last week regarding the importance of improving allergy services in the NHS, stating “there is a modern-day epidemic in allergy, one that I would argue is neglected by the NHS”. Allergy UK recently invested £500,000 in research project with the University of Edinburgh to trial a new nurse-led allergy centre in primary care. Thirty-eight clinical practices were allowed to refer patients to two specialist allergy nurses, who held six clinical sessions each week. Allergy is largely ignored, regardless that people with allergies have tripled over the last 30 years. GP practices receive no training in allergy, and there is a small number of allergy consultants. Jon argued “we should make allergy a priority and invest in a national plan”. He also highlighted the importance of specialist care within the NHS.

In 2021 Natasha’s law meant that all food labelling had to include a full list of ingredients and allergens for pre-packaged food, however the same law does not apply to takeaways or restaurants. In 2017 Owen Carey went out for his 18th birthday. Owen ordered what he was assured was a plan grilled chicken burger however was marinated in buttermilk which he was highly allergic to. Shortly after the meal Owen had an anaphylactic reaction to which he later died. This led to an e-petition ‘Owen’s Law’ which had just under 13,000 signatures. On Monday Owen’s Law was debated in parliament. We have also seen an active response from businesses such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s who have called for clearer rules on food labelling after recent deaths.

Jon ended his contribution in parliament last week stating; “On behalf of the many millions of people suffering from allergy conditions, I urge the Government to acknowledge allergy as a public health priority. Lives, as well as the quality of life of many of our fellow citizens, depend on it”.

To read more on Jon’s speech in parliament: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2023-05-11/debates/295069F8-79F3-40C9-B96C-DEF92C9F14C4/details

Allergy UK website: https://www.allergyuk.org/