Coronavirus has changed the way we eat and drink. Restaurants are temporarily closed and as a nation we’re eating at home much more than we did before lockdown.
If you’ve got a food allergy it can sometimes be a pain. But there are some really important things you can do to stay safe. If you haven’t got a food allergy, you probably know someone who does, so make sure they know about these things too.
1. Check the ingredients
Always ask about the ingredients or check labels carefully when you’re ordering and buying food. Here are some helpful tips to make sure you’re fully prepared.
When ordering food from a takeaway:
- Check that up to date allergen information is available on the menu online or over the phone. Some restaurants have a limited menu at the moment, so even if you’ve ordered from there before, they may have changed their dishes or the ingredients they use. Don’t assume that because you have eaten something before that it will be suitable for you again. Make sure it’s clear that they have meals that meet your needs before ordering.
- Make sure you’re being really clear about your allergy and give examples of the foods that might cause a reaction.
- If you’re not ordering directly from the restaurant and are using an online food delivery app instead, follow up your order with a call to the restaurant to let them know about your allergy. Don’t just rely on inputting this info on app which could be overlooked.
- Ask about how the food is handled and cooked, and whether there’s a chance food allergens could be spread from cooking equipment or ingredients.
- When there’s a big order for a few people, make sure the restaurant labels your meal, so you know which one is safe for you.
- If you feel the person you’re speaking to doesn’t understand your needs, ask for the manager or someone who can better help you.
- If you have any doubt about the staff understanding the importance of your food allergy, don’t order from there.
When shopping at the supermarket:
- Some ingredients might not be available in supermarkets, but it’s still really important to keep your allergy front of mind and not eat anything that you could be allergic to.
- Make a list with some plan-B items so you’re not caught short if your local shop doesn’t have everything you need to safely prepare your food.
The 14 allergens have to be declared on all food and drink packaging, so this should make them easier to spot. But it’s important to read through the full list of ingredients to make sure what you’re buying is safe for you, in case your allergen isn’t one of the main 14 listed.
2. Remember Your Allergy Pen
Remember to take your allergy pen whenever you leave the house if you have one.
If you need an allergy pen for your food allergy, having one with you at all times is really important. Even if you’ve not had an allergic reaction for a long time or if you’re only going to be out of the house for a short while, you never know when you might need it.
Make sure you know how to use your allergy pen.
Show people in your household where you keep your pen and make sure they know how to use it too, just in case.
We hope these top tips were useful. And remember, whether it’s strolling around with toilet paper stuck to your shoe or sending a private message to the wrong person, we all have our cringe moments. But letting people know about your food allergy shouldn’t be one of them.
Please share this info with anyone you know who has a food allergy.
For more food allergy information, including the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance, visit Food Standards Scotland's website.
And sign up for food allergy text alerts to keep up to date on what’s in your food shop.
For more advice and support about allergies check out Allergy UK's website.
Head back to the Food Standards Scotland hub for more information on food safety, healthy eating tips and more!