Tech can prevent food allergy-related deaths

Tech can prevent food allergy-related deaths

By Julian Fisher, CEO, jisp

When dining out or even quickly grabbing a sandwich to go, you should not be questioning every single dish on the menu and wondering whether there are any hidden ingredients in the chicken coating. 

Companies spend millions of pounds to perfect their processes in order to build absolute trust in their brands. However, in light of recent Pret and Byron deaths, it is evident that they are not doing enough. Cases like this not only damage the reputation but induce fear in using their services.

As Dr. Boyle from St. Mary’s Hospital rightfully said, “we don’t fully understand why it [fatal food anaphylaxis] happens so fast….I don’t think we are learning from it enough.” Considering the Food Standard Agency report on the rise of people born with allergies in the UK, with an average of ten food-allergy-related deaths a year, it’s scary how the hospitality industries still remain ignorant to the national outcry. Having a small sign at the back of a sandwich or a nut icon on the menu just doesn’t quite cut the mustard.

There are ways of learning from the mistakes made by the world-renowned brands to shine a light on the grey area of food allergies. Some are enforced by the government, like Natasha’s Law, requiring food businesses to include full ingredient labelling on pre-packaged foods. However, it will only come into force in October 2021 to enable companies to implement the changes. Should we wait this long to protect ourselves and our loved ones from deadliest hidden ingredients? And shouldn’t that law extend to include catering and restaurant businesses?

There are technology solutions available right now to businesses and users to get an instant information on any product, whether pre-packaged or served fresh from the restaurant’s kitchen. In cases where members of staff might miss an ingredient included in a dish, there are apps like jisp that can flag potential allergens for you when you tap the menu or just simply not show you that dish if you state, when registering with the app, that you are allergic to a specific product. This can help eliminate the fear and doubt of ordering something that will be fatal for your health, while increasing trust in the brand.

At the times when people are not fully aware of allergens, we shouldn’t wait for medical experts to come up with a better understanding. Food industries need to tackle this problem head-first and use the king of knowledge, technology, to ensure their customers’ safety.

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