Restaurants and cafes should take steps to warn diners about possible allergens in food, a watchdog has said.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said products made with ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction should have them listed on a card, label or menu.
Its new voluntary guidelines are backed by an advice booklet which warns that "eating even a small bit of food" can cause illness or death. Allergic reactions can be caused by nuts, milk, soya, shellfish or eggs. Mustard, gluten and celery can also have an adverse effect when consumed.
The advice booklet says: "When someone has a food allergy, eating even a small bit of that food can make them very ill. Sometimes they could even die." The FSA said staff should always check whether a products contains a potential allergen when asked by a customer. And up-to-date lists of ingredients for ready-made foods, such as sandwich fillings, should also be kept to hand.
The introduction of new guidelines follows evidence that food allergies are becoming more common.
Under the current approach, firms which sell food prepared or wrapped on their own premises are not legally required to say whether their products contain potential allergens.
Source - BBC