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  • 14 Aug 2014

    Sainsbury's film aims to educate staff and suppliers about food allergies

    Posted: 14 Aug 2014

    August got off to a glamorous start with my niece, my sister and I taking part in a Sainsbury's film about food allergies. It was all Lights! Camera! Action! exactly like the Cannes film festival - except that it was shot in Islington. (A minor detail.)

    Sainsbury's commissioned the video to help educate their colleagues and suppliers about food allergies. The film also looks at the specific problems that shoppers with food allergies face during the weekly shop.*cue the family sharing our struggles and insights*

    In addition to my star struck niece and other families, David Reading, founder of the Anaphylaxis Campaign, featured in the video too. He was there to explain the highly emotive reason why he set up the Anaphylaxis Campaign, after losing his daughter in 1993 to an allergic reaction to peanuts aged just 17 years old, and to stress the importance of correct food allergen labelling.

    As you can see from the photos, my niece had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed her 15 minutes of fame - and even a brief spot at directing too!

    It's encouraging to see that Sainsbury's is being so proactive about helping staff and suppliers understand the specific problems of shopping for food allergies. Because food allergy shopping can be a very frustrating process, right?

    It can range from wrestling with the differences in how the allergens are listed (although  the EU is trying to solve that problem to gnashing your teeth because your favourite brand has  changed its disclaimer about nuts

    In fact, research has shown that a simple supermarket trip can take almost 40% longer when shopping for a food allergic child. (Source:Allergy UK)

    So anything that can be done to make the process easier for us allergy folk gets my vote! In fact - little bit of Sainsbury's worship coming up - I'm a fan of how Sainsbury's are tackling food allergies. When I attended the  Allergy Academy's Kitchen Workshop in London colleagues from Sainsbury's were there to improve their knowledge of food allergies and cook with substitute ingredients.

    And when it comes to allergen information on their own brand labels, they check with the manufacturer to understand exactly how the product is made so that the labels can have clear information. E.g. 'Not suitable for customers with an allergy to egg/milk/peanuts/etc due to manufacturing methods.' There's none of that vague 'May Contain Nuts' rubbish! Read about Sainsbury's allergen labelling.

    To my mind, it's all good news for families coping with food allergies. But those are my thoughts, what are yours?

    Do you find that some supermarkets make food allergy shopping easier than others? What are your pet peeves about shopping for food allergies? Let me know in the comments box below, or on Twitter or Facebook.

    And lastly a huge thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts on Facebook recently when I posed the question - "If you could ask Sainsbury's to do one thing differently to help improve our shopping experience catering for those with allergies, what would it be?"  See the list of suggestions here.

    As the list grew I knew I was going to struggle to remember them all, so I printed it off and shared your comments with the team at Sainsbury's. Who knows, your thougths could be the start of some big improvements for us all.

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