In these difficult times, the Anaphylaxis Campaign will continue to provide support to many severely allergic adults and children who are at risk of anaphylaxis throughout the UK. Our aim is to provide accurate information, support and reassurance and campaign on your behalf. The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has led to some unexpected challenges for the allergic community and as we continue to monitor the situation, this page will be updated with the latest advice for schools, food businesses and individuals.
Many of you support us as Individual, Professional and Corporate members at this time. This continued support is extremely important to us and enables us to carry out our vital work, support you and give you the latest accurate, clinically based information.
If you know of anyone who would benefit from our membership scheme, please encourage them to contact us via [email protected].
If you have any questions that we haven’t answered here, please contact our Helpline on 01252 542029 or email [email protected] Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
As events around the country grind to a halt, we need you to work with us to continue raising awareness of anaphylaxis. Like many small charities who do not receive government funding, we will find the next few weeks and months extremely financially challenging. If you are able to make a donation, of any size to our charity to ensure that we can continue our work, we would be extremely grateful. Click to donate here
Over the coming weeks, we will be asking you to support our social media campaign ‘Going Orange for Anaphylaxis‘ for our annual Anaphylaxis Awareness Week on 4th-10th May. Keep an eye on our website for more details on this and if you have any creative fundraising ideas you’re planning at home, as always, our fundraising team is on hand to discuss any current or future ideas with you. Just email [email protected]
Thank you for your continued support
Coronavirus and Allergy
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect the lungs and airways. We have received a number of helpline enquiries from individuals and parents of children with allergies who are concerned about the risks they may face from Coronavirus. Please see our detailed ‘Coronavirus and allergies FAQs‘ for more information.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign endorses and reinforces the need for the allergic community to follow Government guidance in respect of Coronavirus. It is important that if you think that you have symptoms that you refer to official advice from the NHS and PHE.
Continue to stay at home if you have either:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.
Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do. Use the 111 coronavirus service
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- stay 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people, if you need to go outside
We are listening to how individuals and parents affected by allergies are being affected during this time and we want to provide support and advice where possible. Please remember that we have a wealth of knowledge on our website including advice on specific allergies and medication. You can also take one of our free online AllergyWise courses to help improve your understanding of anaphylaxis.
Where possible, try to stick to tried and tested recipes and ingredients. Always check the label for your allergen/s, especially if you can’t get hold of your usual brands.
We have heard increasing concerns from the allergic community about the lack of availability of FreeFrom and alternative foods during the coronavirus pandemic. We take these concerns extremely seriously and have joined forces with Allergy UK and BSACI to send a joint letter to all of the major supermarkets asking for their help to intervene and resolve this issue. You can read the open letter here.
Please read more about latex allergy here
We are aware that having an allergy can have a psychological impact on a person and their family. We want to reiterate the importance of understanding this impact at this crucial time where Coronavirus is possibly having a further impact on your mental health.
Our Factsheet The Psychological Impact of Anaphylaxis outlines the potential psychological effects of anaphylaxis and offer advice and coping strategies to individuals and families affected.
We have also been speaking with Dr. Ellie Atkins, Clinical Psychologist from St George’s Hospital in London, who has created the presentation below to explain the body’s physical reaction to anxiety and provide ways in which we can reduce these feelings. You can watch Dr. Atkins’ presentation here.
For children, this can be a particularly confusing time as they adjust to being away from school and friends. Nurse Dotty books aim to help alleviate anxiety around being admitted to hospital for children and their families. They are written and illustrated by Molly Watts, a registered children’s nurse. Molly has recently published a book about coronavirus that aims to give information without fear. You can download ‘Dave the Dog is worried about coronavirus’ here.
Ordering takeaway food during COVID-19 – Special considerations
Following government guidance during the coronavirus outbreak, restaurants and cafes are now closing whilst some are switching to offering a takeaway service in order to continue serving customers.
If you have a food allergy, it is now more important than ever before to take extra precautions when ordering food, particularly if the food business is new to providing food via distance selling.
There are strict laws covering the provision of allergen information in foods and you can read a detailed guide on our website here
When providing food through distance selling, businesses must provide allergen information about any of the 14 major EU allergens in the foods they prepare and serve whether that is ordered through an online platform or app, or over the telephone.
The allergen information must be available to you at two stages through the ordering process.
- Prior to the point of ordering – this can be given verbally or in writing (for example in an online menu)
- At the point of delivery – if a ‘no contact’ delivery is planned, this will need to be in writing (for example, stickers on packaging).
If you have concerns that a food business is not complying with these laws, you can report the business to your local Trading Standards.
Here’s some tips to help you prepare and stay safe.
- Always phone the restaurant in person to discuss your allergy requirements, don’t rely on notes or messages relayed online or through apps that may get missed.
- Ask about the dish/es that you’d like to choose and if they’d be suitable.
- Ask about ingredients, how the food is prepared and whether cross contamination with your allergens is likely. Speak clearly, factually, politely and calmly.
- Ask the person to make a written note of your allergy/ies.
- If the person sounds unsure and you feel the risks are high on this particular occasion, it may be best to try somewhere else.
- Be aware that recipes for a particular dish can vary from one restaurant to another and even in the same chain. A different chef may add or leave out particular ingredients. So just because you’ve eaten something on one occasion and been OK, doesn’t mean the dish is necessarily safe next time. ALWAYS check!
- Confirm that the dish you would like to order is free from your allergen/s, derivatives and from cross contamination and that it has been prepared safely.
- If you’re not confident that your request is being taken seriously, if they don’t seem to ‘get it’, if they can’t or won’t confirm that the food is free from your allergen/s, or if they won’t respond to your requests, it may be better to order elsewhere.
- If you are receiving the food through ‘no contact’ delivery (e.g. left on the doorstep) make sure to ask how your allergen free food will be labelled (e.g. stickers, or written on the packaging)
- If the allergen information is not clear when you receive the food, do not take the risk and eat it. Phone the food business and ask for a refund.
- Before you eat, make sure you have your medication with you, that it’s in date and that you know how to use it.
- If you think you are having a reaction, treat according to your emergency care plan and dial 999/get a friend to do so.
- If you feel at all faint or dizzy, then lie down on the floor, ideally with your knees up on a chair. Don’t stand up suddenly. If you are not faint but are wheezy, you will probably need to sit up.
On the 23rd March 2020 the government announced that all restaurants, pubs and cafés would have to close as part of measures to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. The government has temporarily relaxed planning rules for these food businesses to allow them to diversify and offer foods via distance selling methods during this time.
This means that many food businesses will be selling takeaway foods for the first time and potentially may not be fully aware of the distance selling regulations that apply for the provision of allergen information to the consumer and the correct management of allergen hygiene within a delivery business model.
Deaths such as that of Megan Lee, aged 15, who died in 2017 after suffering a severe allergic reaction to takeaway food contaminated with peanut proteins, demonstrate that even under normal circumstances there is much work to be done to improve allergy awareness and standards in the takeaway industry.
The FSA have released new guidelines recommending that all takeaway orders should be placed by telephone or online, even if the customer plans to collect the order. Businesses new to distance selling will need to ensure that they have a means of providing accurate and up to date allergen information in line with existing regulations.
Any food that is delivered is likely to be a ‘no contact’ delivery to limit the spread of the virus, so it is vitally important that the allergen information is relayed correctly and in an appropriate format at the point of delivery.
All food for sale, including that sold via distance selling, is covered under the EU Food Information to Consumers Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011, commonly known as EU FIC Regulation. This EU legislation has been implemented into UK law, via the Food Information Regulations 2014. The UK is still covered by this legislation even though we left the EU in January 2020.
Guidelines for the provision of allergen information for distance selling
Food businesses must provide allergen information about any of the 14 major allergens when they are used as ingredients in the food and drink they provide. This applies to all foods sold at a distance, whether that is through an online platform or app, or over the telephone.
The regulations state that allergen information must be available to the customer at two stages through the ordering process as follows:
- Prior to the point of ordering – this can be given verbally or in writing
- At the point of delivery – this will need to be in a written format that allows the customer to easily identify the dishes containing allergenic ingredients
Food businesses should keep accurate and up to date written records of the allergen information for the dishes they serve. This must be available to the customer at some point between ordering and taking delivery of the food.
How to provide allergen information prior to the point of ordering
Staff can provide this information verbally over the telephone, ensuring that they refer to their written record of allergen information. Best practice would be to ask all customers if they or any of their party have any food allergies or intolerances prior to taking the order.
There must not be any extra charges (for example, premium rate phone calls) for the customer to be able to obtain allergen information.
Alternatively, staff can signpost to the written allergen information (for example, an online menu)
How to provide allergen information at the time of delivery
Written allergen information could be provided in the form of stickers on the food containers which indicate the allergens which are in the food.
Alternatively, written allergen information such as a menu could be provided in the order, along with clearly labelled food containers to allow the customer to identify the dishes containing allergens and those that are allergen-free.
There may be disruption to the supply chain which may mean using different ingredients or suppliers to the usual choice. It is vital that staff check ingredient labels of any new products for allergens and that allergen information is updated promptly and accurately in menus and other written records.
When delivering food orders, thought must be given to how the allergen-free food will be kept separate from any other meals in the order to avoid cross contamination. It may be necessary to transport the food in a different bag or container. All food transportation bags and boxes must be thoroughly cleaned between deliveries to prevent cross-contamination.