HOME     ABOUT VEGA     VEGA NEWS     NEWSLETTER    LINKS      SUPPORT US      CONTACT  
    INTERESTS     ANIMAL WELFARE     RECIPES     PORTFOLIO     YOUTH PAGE  
   VEGETARIAN ECONOMY & GREEN AGRICULTURE
HOME > NEWS ARCHIVE > NEWS ITEM

VEGA News Item

 
Do Intolerant Aversions count as Allergies - 27/09/2006
 
VEGA comments on an FSA consultation. Packaging bears numerous warnings of possible contaminations of traces of allergens in foods sufficient to deter purchasers with certain aversions. Multipurpose factories and production lines cannot be decontaminated rigorously enough to prevent batch to batch transmission of potential allergens.
VEGA comments on an FSA consultation. Packaging bears numerous warnings of possible contaminations of traces of allergens in foods sufficient to deter purchasers with certain aversions. Multipurpose factories and production lines cannot be decontaminated rigorously enough to prevent batch to batch transmission of potential allergens.

But what of foods produced for consumption unpackaged on site for communal occasions or for family meals coming from domestic kitchens? And what defines an allergy and the reasons behind the aversions prompted by intolerances of foods variously judged as “impure” or unfit to buy and eat? The Food Standards Agency has bravely launched a consultation exercise on this topic. We have accepted the challenge, reminding the FSA particularly of the embarrassments of some customers confronted with doubts over accessories and processes such as cooking oils and fats, stocks and soups; and the chips are really down with reservations over the fat in the frier. And who likes the veggieburger served with tongs just used on sizzling pork sausages.



An FSA consultation on
Draft voluntary guidance on the provision of allergen information for foods that are not prepacked.


1. Definitions of allergy and food intolerances must comprehend aversions of all sorts. Some of those omitted from your lists may extend to consistently and objectively expressed boycotts extending in number and severity beyond the requirements of purchasers avoiding products containing sesame seeds. Before the winds of change swept away objections to apartheid a strong elemnt in the British public boycotted fruit and the corresponding derivatives from South Africa. Whatever views the FSA may hold, proponents with organic and anti-GM persuasions respond to outcries that manifest in strong aversions to “Frankenstein Foods”, which many outlets are recognizing in disclaimers in defence of such influences among their customers. Consumers’ altrustic outlooks can actually dominate aversions as powerfully as doctrinal observances or frank self-interest.

2. We have made our comments in consultations on labelling and in the use of IT by all purveyors of comestibles and its availability to customers and consumers. This facility is still underused. We have also illustrated relevant matters in institutional catering, e.g. in schools, universities, hospitals, retirement homes, and prisons, and for the staff, e.g. teachers, who may have to instigate immediate remedial action at incidents of untoward allergic responses among their charges. From recent (limited) experience we can commend to the FSA’s attention the useful notices posted in canteens at the University of East Anglia in Norwich and at University College Hospital, London.

3. The veggie-minded sector of today comprises an enhanced population of meat-reducers, dairy-frees, and stricter adherents to the codes than the consumers who profess allergies to soya or tree-nuts. Contaminants that upset this larger consituency can evoke aversions ranging from distaste,and disgust to outright repulsion. Regular expression of such aversions could result in long-term nutritional deficiency. Similar care has to be observed with conditions for people with the celiac tendency. Issues of concern to vegetarians apply in various repsects to the large population declaring expressions of animal welfare and environment as reasons for their choices and aversions and willingness to pay premium prices. The issues may also arise in various religious or ethnic observances, e.g. for Jews, Muslims, and Hindus and in “fads” such as consumption of meat from equines, “furry animals with names/faces”, bushmeat, and veal (even fancifully euphemized).

4. Buffets and institutional catering pose special challenges, such as:

4.1. Oils and fats used for cooking, even for vegetables. Is it tallow, butter, or vegetable oil used in the frying? And what vegetable oil is it?

4.2. Kitchen and catering practices inadequately segregating vegetarian menus (e.g. justifying assurances of “pure Indian vegetarian” meals). Are common cooking fats/oils and stocks used? Likewise, many bakery products are suspect, are they “buttered up”and thus offnesive for veggies and their like.

4.3. Clarification and processing of beverages and juices may entail suspect means of fining – and almost certainly with cask-conditioning.

4.4. Methods of rearing and slaughter of food animals. The government-appointed Farm Animal Welfare Council, which has widespread support from animal welfarists including the RSPCA and British Veterinary Association, has repeated its call for a ban on the Jewish and Muslim methods of slaughter. The meat and derivatives may be passed off into the ordinary market without disclosure of provenance. Such omissions are disqueiting.

4.5. Flavorings may be included in pre-prepared foods and in in-house cooking. Lurid colorings, e.g. in curries and even mushy peas, may disclose otherwise undeclared additives (of the “coal tar” type) reckoned by some consumers to elicit allergic-responses and bad behaviour in children.

5. We have had opportunites for assessing catering commissioned by the FSA and provided for staff and visitors at Aviation House. We find good grounds for the FSA to improve its services as an exemplar of the procedures your draft guidance implies.

 
 
 

Registered Charity No. 1045293
© VEGA - 2008