In this chapter we have seen something of the difficulties which face customers who may have an allergic reaction to a particular food ingredient. We have also seen something of the difficulties faced by food manufacturers in meeting the growing clamour for a greater variety of prepared foods at lower cost whilst trying to safeguard the interests of allergy sufferers. It would be impractical to eliminate from the diet food ingredients which are perfectly harmless to the vast majority of the population. The way forward therefore lies in the provision of good information about exactly what is in each food. Labelling exemptions which provide some flexibility and saving on label space may prove to be a trap for the unwary, as they may mask the presence of ingredients which, even in small quantities, may provoke an allergic reaction. Worse still is the situation where food is sold loose, packed on the premises or sold at a catering outlet. In this case the customer is likely to see little in the way of ingredient information. The key to this is the availability of information, whether by means of product information sheets, staff knowledge or through electronic storage and retrieval systems.

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