Its hay fever season, the high pollen counts for which people have to deal with on balmy summer days, for those who suffer from this sneezy and itchy trouble can be a real hassle. I have to endure it myself. Allergic reactions have taken on a whole new meaning however in the food business with the advent of serious life endangering reactions if you happen to unwittingly eat one of the fourteen allergens you may or may not know you are allergic to and that can cause an anaphylactic fit resulting sometimes in death. There have been instances you will have seen in the media the last few years of both adults and children actually dying from having consumed some food item that they believed was not in a recipe or dish they had ordered. Caterers have been imprisoned for what is the ultimate food poisoning culinary crime for selling food and not declaring the full list of more dangerous ingredients.
What is amazing to me is the sheer increase in this phenomenon in the four decades I have been in food. In the seventies you would hardly ever hear of anyone with a food allergy. Now it’s widespread, in both young and old and whether real or imagined in some, it has to be taken very seriously. We used to joke about it in kitchens in the nineties as it crept in more and more but now it is no laughing matter. Allergens have to be listed for each dish on menus now by law and service staff must be trained up as to what to say to inquiring customers. Give the wrong advice and it literally can be a matter of life or death. For the customers they must be also informed and educated.
One parent was not aware that satay sauce was made from peanuts, the very allergen her child was allergic to. Just eating a bag of nuts next to someone with a nut allergy can cause a severe reaction with the particles of nut in the air being inhaled by the allergic person. Some people might be allergic to one type of nut only but fine with others so now the allergens are in subsections as to which type of dairy and gluten as well for example must be listed.
In kitchens now we have to use separate chopping boards and knives for allergen risk dishes so that there will be no cross contamination for the consumer. It has become a high risk game of hit and miss as to whether restaurants can have absolute guarantees to diners that a dish is one hundred percent allergen free.
So what is the reason for such an increase in the amount of people with food allergies? My theory is that most food is no longer pure or natural, the more processed it is the more damage it is doing to our body and immunity. As more and more additives and preservatives are included in food the body is growing weaker in its ability to deal with them and ordinary ingredients like dairy, nuts, fish and cereals. Just look at the amount of emulsifiers and E numbers on a typical ingredient list now. Children are now being born with food allergies directly as a result of the diet their parents were brought up on. The law states that all these chemicals are safe to consume but are they?
I do not believe they are and the proof is in the pudding or packet or snack you eat which you think is safe but over many years of consumption in tiny amounts it has done untold damage to the human body. So eat natural foods, know what you are consuming and keep away from junk food as much as possible as there are ingredients in it that are causing harm long term. Big food will dispute all of this, but for me it’s the only logical explanation. Future generations will be aghast as how we let food become like this, the addictive and manipulative salt and sugar laden recipes have damaged our bodies and the increasing allergen epidemic is a sure symptom of this exploitation. That is it in a nutshell for me.