Il recent study of the University of Düsseldorf demonstrates the scarcity of information on food allergies in restaurants, where only in 28% of cases the menus report the necessary information regarding the presence of allergens in individual dishes. (1) The situation is bleak, but we must not lose hope. Rather, act with determination and synergy. Professor Claudio Ortolani - protagonist of international scientific research in this sector, as well as a dear friend - traces the way forward. (Dario Dongo)
'The survey carried out in Düsseldorf indicates that the majority of restaurant operators do not have adequate preparation on food allergy. Consequently, allergic subjects, by consuming a meal in public exercises, may run the risk of serious reactions.
The situation is not fundamentally different in the US, where similar investigations have been made. (2) We wonder if the problem is unsolvable.
Personally, I am optimistic on the real possibilities of containing and ultimately solving the problem completely. I affirm this because Europe - and also Italy, for a year - has a very valid legislation to safeguard food allergy sufferers (Legislative Decree 231/17). (3) Which requires not only public retailers but anyone who sells or supplies food, in any context, to inform consumers about the presence of allergenic ingredients. And the information must be written, for each food sold or served, in a special register that must be available to users and verifiable by the supervisory authority.
The penalties for offenders they are very salty and certainly difficult for exhibitors to bear, especially if repeated. Moreover, the general legislation requires adequate training on the part of catering operators on every aspect concerning food safety. (4) The legislation is in full force and, if applied correctly, is in itself sufficient to safeguard allergy sufferers from the risk of unwittingly ingesting allergens in catering.
It is therefore essential inform patients with food allergies about the existence of this law, which entails their right - when they eat meals outside the home - to always receive written information about the allergens present in the various foods available for sale or indicated in the menu. And the opportunity to report non-compliance to the supervisory authority. (5)
This information must be given by the attending physician or allergist specialist to the individual allergic person at risk, but also by patient and consumer associations to their associates. And finally spread by the general media, as well as those who disseminate news in the field of nutrition and allergy.
The authorities in turn, they must undertake a series of direct interventions, such as systematic checks of the establishments and shops regarding the application of the legislation, as well as analysis on training on the topic of 'Food allergy' of catering operators. The Guidelines for valid training on the topic 'Food allergy for catering staff' must then be drawn up.
All this can be achieved only with a joint action between the scientific world (Universities, Research Centers, etc.), patient associations such as Food Allergy Italia, consumer associations such as AltroConsumo. And last but not least the associations of exhibitors such as FiPE, whose contribution is essential for the success of any project in this field. Only a close collaboration of all the components involved will allow the planning of shared and effective initiatives.
It is fundamental and urgent thus guaranteeing the best application of existing legislation, to obtain a substantial reduction of the risks of food allergy anaphylaxis in collective catering. '
Prof. Claudio Ortolani
Manager Lombard Allergological Institute
Cesano Boscone (Milan)
(1) Adrian Loerbroks, Susanne Julia Tolksdorf, Martin Wagenmann, Helen Smith (2019). 'Food allergy knowledge, attitudes and their determinants among restaurant staff: A cross-sectional study'. PLoS ONE 14 (4): e0214625. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0214625
(2) Ahuja R, Sicherer SH (2007). 'Food-allergy management from the perspective of restaurant and food establish- ment personnel'. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2007; 98: 344–348. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1081-1206 (10)60880-0 PMID: 17458430
In the USA, hints at the (few) restaurants'allergy-friendly'are offered by providential blogs such as'Allergy-Eats' is 'the Allergy-free life'(NYC). But is it possible to entrust the lives of patients to sporadic private initiatives? And how can the health administration abdicate its first task, which is precisely the protection of citizens' health?
(3) See reg. EU 1169/11, Legislative Decree 231/17. For further information, please refer tofree ebook '1169 penis. EU Reg. 1169/11, news on foods, controls and sanctions',
(4) With regard to food safety and the responsibilities incumbent on operators in the food sector, distributors and the community (public establishments, canteens, catering), reference is made to the previous articles https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/sicurezza-alimentare-abc-responsabilità-operatori, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/le-responsabilità-della-gdo, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/igiene-nei-ristoranti-l-abc
(5) Food Allergy Italia and GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade) will in turn undertake to report to the authorities all the reports received from ConsumAttori in Italy through the widespread survey #DetectiveFood. We renew the invitation to all readers to provide us with as many reports as possible, in the manner indicated above https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/consum-attori/allergeni-indagine-diffusa-con-il-progetto-detectivefood