Food Allergy & Intolerance
A food allergy is when the body's immune system reacts abnormally to specific types of foods, which are normally not harmful to the majority of people. The reaction occurs within minutes or up to two hours following ingestion of the food and symptoms vary from abdominal cramps, hives, vomiting, swelling of tongue and throat and difficulty breathing however, it can sometimes be extremely serious and potentially fatal (anaphylaxis). Total avoidance of the food that causes the allergy should be advised to prevent these symptoms. Therefore all allergens must be labelled on foods even if present in small quantities or if the manufacturer cannot guarantee the products does not contain small amounts of the foods.
The 14 foods which must now be named as ingredients if they are present in pre-packed foods are:
- Cereals containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats spelt)
- Crustaceans (e.g. crab or prawns)
- Molluscs (e.g. mussels or oysters)
- Nuts (e.g. almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts)
- Sesame seeds
- Sulphur dioxide or sulphites (preservatives used in some foods and drinks) at levels above 10mg per kg or per litre.
Food intolerance is where the body shows an adverse reaction to a particular food and is the response from the digestive system rather than the immune system. The symptoms are normally delayed and usually occur several hours after consuming the food. Some people can tolerate a reasonable amount of the food before the body has adverse reactions and the symptoms are generally varied and can include fatigue, joint pains, night sweats, gastrointestinal symptoms, skin rashes, eczema and other chronic conditions.
One of the causes of food intolerance can be due to insufficient amounts of the enzymes that breakdown the food, for example lactose intolerance is when the body lacks the enzyme lactase that breaks down lactose (milk sugar). Lactose is then indigestible as it is too big to be absorbed across the gut wall, causing gut spasm, pain, bloating and diarrhoea. Other possible causes are from naturally occurring chemicals and additives.
Special Dietary Requirements
Coeliac disease is not classified as either a food allergy or intolerance but as an autoimmune disease of the small intestine, whereby the body's immune system attacks its own tissues. In coeliac disease, eating gluten causes the lining of the small intestine to become damaged. The only treatment for coeliac disease is strict adherence to a lifelong gluten-free diet.
Gluten is a protein found in the cereals wheat, rye and barley therefore you must exclude these cereals in a gluten free diet to help control symptoms and prevent long term health consequences. A diet should instead consists of naturally gluten-free foods such as meat, fruit, vegetables, most dairy products, potatoes, rice and lentils, processed foods which contain no gluten like ready meals and soups and gluten free substitute foods that are specially made for people with coeliac disease for example gluten free bread, flour pasta and biscuits.
For more information visit: Coeliac UK website.
Nestlé UK has a legal duty of care to ensure that we have provided as much accurate information as necessary for consumers to protect themselves. The allergy sufferer also has a duty of care to check the status of a product by referring to the information on the packaging.
Any allergens present in the product will be highlighted in an appropriate manner (for example in bold) in the ingredient list. A list of the allergens that the product 'may contain' will be at the end of the ingredients list.
Our policy of continuous improvement may result in product changes, we therefore recommend that consumers always check the packaging prior to consumption for the most up-to-date information.
The following lifestyle lists are available: