Food intolerance at the FSA

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Allergy, Food standards agency

The Food Standards Agency has launched a new section on its website
providing information on 24 different types of food intolerance.
Foods marketed to those with food intolerance is a growing segment
in supermarket aisles.

The UK's Food Standards Agency​ (FSA) has launched a new section on its website providing information on food intolerance, including food allergy. The move seems to support the growing 'incidence' of intolerance to food ingredients, such as gluten or lactose, highlighted by a recent Mintel report.

The FSA resource contains information on 24 different types of food intolerance, from peanut and coconut allergy to lactose intolerance and coeliac disease. It also includes explanations of what happens in the body when someone has an allergic reaction to food and looks at why people get food allergies.

Food intolerances seem to be on the rise but some have questioned whether it is a real medical condition or merely in the mind and a consumer 'fad'.

The Agency notes that some people can have unpleasant reactions to food that are not the same as food intolerance. Such an example is a 'food aversion', when someone reacts to a food because of a personal dislike. The symptoms are described as being quite similar to those of food intolerance, but they only happen when the person knows they have eaten the food.

In a March 2003 report​ from Mintel, the analysts highlighted the tendency towards so-called 'designer allergies' and the resulting increase in purchasing of products which do not contain ingredients such as wheat, lactose, gluten and nuts. The food intolerance and allergies market has grown 165 per cent since 2000, and is set to more than double in value by 2007 reaching £138 million (€202m), according to the report.

The report did however put things into perspective - intolerances affect a relative minority of people and we are more likely to avoid potentially problematic foods such as nuts and cheese due to their high fat content rather than because of intolerance problems.

Despite these queries there is no doubt that for those who do suffer from food intolerance, action and safety measures are vital. The FSA is currently funding research that will help increase understanding of food intolerance. It is also working to strengthen food labelling rules to help people who need to avoid certain ingredients and aiming to raise awareness of food intolerance and food allergy among caterers.

Related topics: Research, Suppliers

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